Celebrating the Fiction of Yuko Tsushima

Monday May 20, 2019
07:00 pm

Tags: Event


Grants entry for 1 plus $10 voucher towards any purchase at our bookstore.

Join us for an evening of conversation on Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima. Tsushima has been hailed “one of the most important Japanese writers of her generation” by the New York Times, and was a highly regarded and powerful voice in Japanese literature, awarded many of the country’s top literary prizes before she died two years ago. Territory of Light was originally published in the 1970s in Japan and won many prizes there, but has never been translated into English until now.


Writers Jiayang Fan, Hermione Hoby, Katie Kitamura, and Alexandra Kleeman will participate in a panel discussion on the remarkably timely novel, moderated by critic and essayist Maris Kreizman.




"The brilliance of Territory is that Tsushima’s skilled attention to her narrator’s inner struggles ultimately asks the reader to feel empathy not just for one woman but also for a whole strata of women living with little societal support . . . By rendering the everyday details of the mother’s life, whether disastrous or beautiful, Tsushima allows her protagonist a complexity that those around her do not. In the present age, in which mothers are still often seen as monsters or angels, this portrait of an imperfect mother who strives to provide a good life for her child feels painfully relevant." —Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, The Atlantic


From one of the most significant contemporary Japanese writers, a haunting, dazzling novel of loss and rebirth.


I was puzzled by how I had changed. But I could no longer go back . . .

It is spring. A young woman, left by her husband, starts a new life in a Tokyo apartment. Territory of Light follows her over the course of a year, as she struggles to bring up her two-year-old daughter alone. Her new home is filled with light streaming through the windows, so bright she has to squint, but she finds herself plummeting deeper into darkness, becoming unstable, untethered. As the months come and go and the seasons turn, she must confront what she has lost and what she will become.


At once tender and lacerating, luminous and unsettling, Yuko Tsushima’s Territory of Light is a novel of abandonment, desire, and transformation. It was originally published in twelve parts in the Japanese literary monthly Gunzo, between 1978 and 1979, each chapter marking the months in real time. It won the inaugural Noma Literary Prize.


YUKO TSUSHIMA was born in Tokyo in 1947, the daughter of the novelist Osamu Dazai, who took his own life when she was one year old. Her prolific literary career began with her first collection of short stories, Shaniku-sai (Carnival), which she published at the age of twenty-four. She won many awards, including the Izumi Kyoka Prize for Literature (1977), the Kawabata Prize (1983), and the Tanizaki Prize (1998). She died in 2016.

JIAYANG FAN is on the editorial staff of the New Yorker. She regularly writes about social, economic and political issues in China for She is also a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review, Slate, the LA Review of Books and VQR, among other publications.

HERMIONE HOBY is a novelist and critic who writes about culture, especially books, for the Guardian, the New Yorker, the New York Times, the TLS and others. She is the author of the novel Neon in Daylight, which was a two-times New York Times editors’ choice. She’s taught in the creative writing department at Columbia University, the MFA program at Southern New Hampshire University, and regularly teaches advanced fiction workshops at Catapult.

KATIE KITAMURA’s most recent novel, A Separation, was a finalist for the Premio von Rezzori and a New York Times Notable Book. It was named a best book of the year by over a dozen publications, translated into 16 languages, and is being adapted for film. Her two previous novels, Gone to the Forest and The Longshot were both finalists for the Young Lions Fiction Award. A recipient of fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and Santa Maddalena, Kitamura has written for publications including The New York Times Book Review, The Guardian, BOMB, and Triple Canopy.

ALEXANDRA KLEEMAN is the author of the novel You Too Can Have A Body Like Mine and Intimations, a short story collection. Her fiction has been published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Zoetrope, Conjunctions, and Guernica, among others. Nonfiction essays and reporting have appeared in Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, Tin House, n+1, and The Guardian. Her work has received fellowships and support from Bread Loaf, Djerassi, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Headlands Center for the Arts. She teaches at the New School and is the winner of the 2016 Bard Fiction Prize.

MARIS KREIZMAN is a critic and essayist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the LA Times, New York Magazine, Publishers Weekly, BuzzFeed, The Toast, and more.