Lead Review (Days at the Morisaki Bookshop)

  • Book: Days at the Morisaki Bookshop
  • Location: Jimbocho
  • Author: Eric Ozawa (translator), Satoshi Yagisawa

Review Author: tripfiction



I listened to this as an audiobook and was amazed to be introduced to Jimbocho. an area of secondhand bookshops in Tokyo and it is here that the novel is set. It’s just perfect for readers who love a short (c 160 pages) novel with books at its heart.

25 year old Takako has broken up with her boyfriend (he was double dating) she has lost her job and slumps into depression. Her uncle, Satoru, who owns the Morisaki Bookshop in Jimbocho, offers her a bit of respite from her woes, suggesting she works amongst the books. She is not a natural bibliophile but discovers the charm of books and introduces the reader to a slew of Japanese authors as she comes across them in her daily work. Some of the authors I had heard of, some not.

She struggles to get out of bed, having been given a tiny room which needed a complete overhaul. She gradually finds herself perking up and making friends in the vicinity and once her period of book therapy has waned, she takes off for pastures new. She takes with her new knowledge about life and about herself and is a convert to the power of books

In the interim she takes a short journey up into the hills above Tokyo for some hiking, with someone from her past.

This is a very American translation, which may not appeal to everyone and occasionally it does feel a little grating to the English ear. It is a sweet novel that will appeal to admirers of Toshikazu Kawaguchi (the author of Before The Coffee Gets Cold). Overall, there is a lovely sense of place but generally I felt that the novel struggled with any feeling of depth. The word ‘nice’ perhaps sums up my experience.

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