The Lonesome Bodybuilder – by Yukiko Motoya

Yukiko Motoya’s imagination is wild and rich in her eleven whimsical short stories in this book. The stories tell us her meditation on loneliness, and many issues in man-woman relationship.

The most impressive story is An Exotic Marriage in which the wife felt that she was losing her identity in the marriage, and her husband started looking like her.
“There are two snakes, and they each start cannibalizing the other one’s tail. And they eat and they eat at exactly the same speed, until they’re just two heads making a ball, and then they both get eaten up and disappear. I think that’s the image I have of marriage…”

These stories are bizarre, surreal and very interesting. There are a few that I must say I’m not quite sure what to make of them.

Winner of the Akutagawa Prize ( for her story Irui konin tan – An Exotic Marriage – in 2016) and the Kenzaburo Oe Prize (2013), The Lonesome Bodybuilder was first published in Japan in 2012 and 2016, and in English in 2018 by Soft Skull Press. Translation by Asa Yoneda.

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