(Book Review) ‘Spring Garden’ by Tomoka Shibasaki / 「春の庭」柴崎友香

by Miki
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Have you ever imagined the life of your neighbours, and how it’s only a thin wall dividing you and them?

壁一枚しか分かつものはないのに、何をしているかもわからない、ご近所さんの様子…

Taro lives alone in a flat in Setagaya, Tokyo. One day, he is asked to move out, as his block is being pulled down. This occasion acts as the spark for him to start building a quirky relationship with his neighbour Nishi, who lives in the same building. Taro gradually starts noticing her weird obsession with the sky-blue house next door.

世田谷の、取り壊しを目前に控えたアパートにひとりで暮らす主人公の太郎は、同じアパートの住人である女性、西と出会う。西はアパートの隣に立つ水色の家に、なんだか異様な関心を寄せている…

This book’s title might suggest it’s about something floral and refreshing, but instead Spring Garden is rather unexpectedly the story of ordinary life and ordinary people. The story has no clear plot or events to follow, instead offering many tiny events sprinkled throughout. These events are not something to foreshadow what readers might to expect next. Rather, they seem more like a way to describe how all these little things come together to create daily lives, or perhaps how life consists of these little findings/happening that don’t necessarily connect with each other. I felt this book really captures the reality of life’s daily joys and happenstance, when you encounter a little something you just have to jot down in your notebook in order to remember it by.

タイトルが連想させる爽やかで花の彩り豊かなイメージとは異なり、この本は普通の人の日常を描く、風変わりで予測がつかない物語。はっきりとした筋書きがなく、大きな出来事が起こるわけでもない本作、小さな小さな日常の一コマが描かれています。そしてそのひとつひとつは必ずしも伏線ではなく、小さな出来事を書き綴ることで、生活って確かに小さい、つながりのない一コマ一コマが連なってできているものだよなぁと。そんな生活のリアル感を物語の根底に感じました。

While nothing really happens in this book, the story was very gripping. It made me constantly curious about the characters contained in it, and made me think of my relationships with my own neighbours. They have their own life just next door, while I have never even really spoken to them… This mysterious side of living so closely with others but not crossing their path at all… that feeling of slight uncomfortableness is captured so well in this book.

何も起こらない物語ながらも、読み手を惹きつけて離さないのはその描写の生々しさ。何かの気配を感じるような、空気まで伝わってくる。登場人物たちが気になって仕方ないし、自分の隣人との関係性と重ねてみたくもなったり。こんなに近くに住んでいるのに、話したこともない、あの隣人… まとなりで暮らしながら交わることの無い人々との関係性を突き付けられて、なんだか居心地の悪さを覚えたり。そしてもしこの物語のように、彼らと会話するようになったら、そこにどんな日常が待っているのだろうか。そんな想像をしてしまうような、生々しさ。

The sky-blue house mentioned above plays an important role in the story, and the rich writing really captures the atmosphere of the buildings and the areas in which the narrative is set.

「水色の家」が物語で大きな役割を果たします。家の中の様子やご近所の情景が目に浮かぶような、雰囲気たっぷりの描写も素晴らしかった。

This is a prime piece of literary fiction in which you can really enjoy experiencing the ‘feel’ of the characters.

とっても文学的な作品で、登場人物たちと共に「日常」を過ごすような読書体験でした。

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