The novel has 10 chapters, each is told by a female character involved with Yukihiko Nishino at some point in his life. These stories portray Nishino as handsome, tidy, smooth talking, courteous, polite, and understanding of women, in essence a womanizer. Women fell for him even with the cliché compliments he gave them, which they told themselves they wouldn’t fall for but they did, due to some mysterious aura emitted from him.
Nishino’s relationships recounted thru the ten women seemed very superficial, and the relationships did not last long, since Nishino was afraid of committing and living a straight life. The root cause of his problem was revealed in the last chapter, and until the end he remained an emotionally immature man.
From the ten female characters’ narrators, the recounted stories beautifully showcased 10 shades of love: love with your boss, an affair with a married woman, a short relationship with your neighbor, sex with your college classmate, sex with your girlfriend’s girlfriend, a cohabitation without love with a much younger girl… Through these narrations, love was experienced in varied moods and states.
“I loved the idea of falling in love with someone, but the actual being in love part was difficult.”
“The moment he said those words to me, I forgave Nishino everything.
I forgave Nishino his past, I forgave Nishino his present, and I forgave Nishino his eternal future.”
“At any moment, I was about to fall in love with him. But I wouldn’t love Nishino….I had already decided that.”
Unlike many female characters in Kawabata’s novels or Murakami’s, most of the female characters in this novel were strong willed women. They decided they wouldn’t love Nishino and ended the relationships themselves, sensing that there was some idiosyncrasy about him.
Kawakami’s writing is warm and charming, and her characters are well fleshed out. The ten chapters read like short stories revolving around the center male character, and interweaving a colorful portrayal of love, life and relationship in modern Japan.
Translated from the Japanese by Allison Markin Powell
Published on 6/4/2019 by Europa Editions