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Short stories set in TOKYO (and London and South Africa)

16th April 2024

Takeout Sushi by Christopher Green, short stories set in Tokyo (and London and South Africa)

Short stories set in TOKYO

If there’s any justice at all, these small stories will be BIG!

Takeout Sushi by Christopher Green is a book written by an outsider to Japan who is also an insider. Green has lived there for many years, married, had a family and hence assimilated himself into the culture. As an outsider myself, I find the characters and the setting quite captivating. I wouldn’t usually seek out books in the short-story format but I’m so glad I had the opportunity of reading this one. It’s a selection of the finest writing, each story exquisite in and of itself, and together they’re an absolute treat.

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Green’s writing is beautiful: it’s just concise enough to make the stories tense and involving but it contains fascinating detail that evokes a strong sense of place. The stories’ settings vary from domestic dilemmas to dystopian office dramas, with the angst ramped up accordingly. Placing the stories in Japan increases the importance of certain types of behaviours matching society’s expectations, which potentially amplifies the embarrassment of these faux pas many times over. The characters find themselves in awkward situations, where they must face the consequences of their actions.

The emotions explored in Takeout Sushi’s short stories are on a scale from comedy and discomfort through pathos and anxiety to complete terror. Often pride comes before a fall, for example in Spinning Wheels the successful office worker who is demoted and demoralised  by his company’s outrageous restructuring plans. By contrast, there’s the subtle miscommunication between a married couple in Swallows, which leads to a simmering, unspoken fury. There’s a delicious wry humour behind each of the scenarios, and the dilemmas Green’s characters face are actually painful when you read them. I’m sure this is because I identified so strongly with their basic humanity. This book is definitely one to put straight to the top of your wish-list and I predict you’ll re-read it many times.

Sue for the TripFiction Team

Catch our reviewer Sue on TwitterX @SueKelsoRyan and on IG @SueKelosRyan

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