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The Laws of Evening

by Mary Waters

A delightful insight into Japanese life and customs. A collection of short stories linked by the theme of coping with loss, but in a moving and positive way. You really want the stories to continue into full length novels, a taster of life!

Extract

Momoko was thrilled that Yuri's Kobe upbringing had included dining in Western-style restaurants. 'Aaa, Yuri-san, you've saved me from becoming a laughing stock!' she breathed in that exaggerated way of teenagers. 'I would have made some horrible mistake, not knowing any better, and shamed my whole family.' At that moment, I wanted to slap my daughter. And Yuri too. Momoko's innocent words could not have cut me any deeper. We Minamotos were one of the five oldest samurai families in the Kansai region; Yuri's family crest came nowhere near ours in distinction. Since girlhood Momoko had been trained, as I once had, in every conceivable form of etiquette befitting her heritage: classical dance, stringed koto, tea ceremony, flower arranging, correct degrees of bowing for each social situation. She had nothing to be ashamed of. As if eating with outlandish foreign utensils even counted as manners! ... What a barbaric way to eat, I thought. Wielding iron spears and knives right at the table, stabbing and slicing - chores that should be performed in the privacy of a kitchen, leaving diners' energies free for thoughts of a higher order. At that moment a strange foreboding rose up through my belly: a sense that my world, indeed my entire understanding of it, was on the threshold of great change.

Parallels

Waiting by Ha Jin
Kitchen by Banana Yashimoto
 

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