Thursday, 8 September 2016

Book Review: The Translation of Love

The Translation of Love
By Lynne Kutsukake
ISBN: 9781784161149
Published by Black Swan
Available in paperback and ebook

Lynne Kutsukake's debut novel, The Translation of Love is a powerful story of cultural and generational clashes

After World War Two, during the American occupation, the citizens of Japan are encouraged to write to General MacArthur if they have a problem. Day after day letters arrive begging for help, offering their services.

Kutsukake explores the bewilderment after WWII with America bring democracy and a new way of life. There is the push and pull between tradition and the new expected ways of society. There are characters who are finding it hard to adjust to the 'American' way of life while there are others who have been repatriated, forced out of their adopted country and back to Japan who need to adjust to the Japanese style of life. Cultural barriers  created conflict and tension between the characters.

Fumi, 12, wants to find her sister who hasn't returned home in a long time. Her sister became a dancer in a club, dancing for the American soldiers,  bringing back money and food but slowly the time between visits became infrequent until she stopped coming. All Fumi wants is her sister to come home, her father to own his bookshop once more and for them to be a proper family. She writes a letter to General MacArthur begging for his help. Weeks pass, and Fumi decides to take matters into her own hands...

This is a book about loss - a delicate and quiet type of loss, lingering under the surface as the characters pretend to embrace change. There is the loss of friends, family, a dying culture and customs and a loss of belonging. the unknown has infiltrated the lives of both American soldiers and the population of Japan.

The Translation of Love is an impressive read that not only gripped me with the plot but also taught be more about the occupation of Japan after WWII. This book is available from your favourite bookshop.

I was kindly sent a copy from the publisher.

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