Nagasaki by Éric Faye

Thanks to Gallic Books, another recent English translation of a French literary work is being published in 2014, Nagasaki, a slim novella inspired by a newspaper cutting of real life events.

Belgravia Books

Belgravia Bookshop offering Gallic Books and other translations

Shimura Kobo lives alone in a quiet suburban street, by day he works as a meteorologist, he rarely socialises with his colleagues, nor does he see family much, his life causes fewer ripples in Nagasaki than the weather he forecasts for it.

“There comes a time when nothing happens any more. The ribbon of destiny, stretched too wide, has snapped. There’s no more. The shockwave caused by your birth is far, oh so far, behind you now. That is modern life. Your existence spans the distance between failure and success. Between frost and the rising of sap.”

Recently there have been a few barely detectable disturbances to his inanimate way of living. A container of fruit juice seems to have lost a few centimetres, and isn’t there one yoghurt pot less than was there this morning? He begins to take extra care securing his home, yet still has the feeling of something not being quite right.

Nagasaki (2)He sets up a webcam in his home and sits at work watching his kitchen as if studying the meteorological charts, waiting to detect any sign of disturbance.

It is a brief story where the revelation comes early, its slow residual effect only beginning in the aftermath. About halfway the narrative shifts, adding to the mystery of how the revelation impacts Shimura, as we no longer have access to his thoughts.

That it is based on a true story is enough to haunt the reader, but the way Eric Faye narrates it, contributes to the way this story inhabits the mind as we read. Like the best stories, it stays with you long after reading and invites discussion with others about how such a thing could happen in our society.

And it will make you check your door locks more carefully.


Note: Thank you to Gallic Books for providing a copy of the book.

14 thoughts on “Nagasaki by Éric Faye

  1. OCD is the order of the day for doors already but I do love something a little psychological. There is something about the Japanese culture that lends itself to a good psychological story.


  2. Thanks for introducing me to another small independent publisher. I really need to put a day to one side just to explore all these wonderful presses and see what gems they have to offer.


  3. Beautiful review, Claire! I really want to find out what happens in Shimura’s house when he goes to work. This book makes me think of Patrick Süskind’s ‘The Pigeon’ – a book which I totally loved (it is about a man who lives a quiet life like Shimura when a small happening rocks his world). I would love to read ‘Nagasaki’ sometime. Thanks for introducing us to this beautiful book and writer. I can’t wait to read it 🙂


  4. Pingback: Nagasaki by Éric Faye, tr. by Emily Boyce | JacquiWine's Journal

  5. Pingback: 14 July La Fête Nationale: A Salmagundi of French Literature | Word by Word

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