‘If we want to understand what has been lost to time, there is no way other than through the exercise of imagination … imagination applied with delicate rather than broad strokes’. So wrote the award winning Japanese author Kyoko Nakajima of her story, ‘Things Remembered and Things Forgotten’, a piece that illuminates, as if by throwing a switch, the layers of wartime devastation that lie just below the surface of Tokyo’s insistently modern culture. The ten acclaimed stories in this collection are pervaded by an air of Japanese ghostliness. In beautifully crafted and deceptively light prose, Nakajima portrays men and women beset by cultural amnesia and unaware of how haunted they are – by fragmented memories of war and occupation, by fading traditions, by buildings lost to firestorms and bulldozers, by the spirits of their recent past.
Out of the thousands of letters Tove Jansson wrote, a cache remains that she addressed to her family, her dearest confidantes, and her lovers, male and female. Into these she spilled her innermost thoughts, defended her ideals and revealed her heart. To read these letters is both an act of startling intimacy and a rare privilege. Penned with grace and humour, ‘Letters from Tove’ offers an almost seamless commentary on Tove Jansson’s life as it unfolds within Helsinki’s bohemian circles and her island home.
Under the ravishing light of an Alaskan sky, objects are spilling from the thawing tundra linking a Yup’ik village to its hunter-gatherer past. In the shifting sand dunes of a Scottish shoreline, impressively preserved hearths and homes of Neolithic farmers are uncovered. In a grandmother’s disordered mind, memories surface of a long-ago mining accident and a ‘mither who was kind’. In this luminous new essay collection, acclaimed author Kathleen Jamie visits archaeological sites and mines her own memories – of her grandparents, of youthful travels – to explore what surfaces and what reconnects us to our past. As always she looks to the natural world for her markers and guides. Most movingly, she considers, as her father dies and her children leave home, the surfacing of an older, less tethered sense of herself.