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"Sarinagara" brings together the stories of three Japanese artists across the centuries: Issa, the last great haiku master of the eighteenth century; Natsume Soseki, inventor of the Japanese modern novel at the end of the nineteenth century; and Yamahata Yosuke, who was the first photographer to take pictures of the victims and ruins of Nagasaki in August 1945. These three "dreamed lives" make up the substance of a narrative that takes the reader from Paris to Kyoto and from Tokyo to Kobe, asking the question of how anyone can hope to survive the most heartbreaking experience. The narrator, who has fled to Japan following the death of his child, encounters a series of incidents that allow him to explore the depth of his own grief through the stories of others. "Sarinagara" is a poignant, poetic meditation on the nature of art, memory, dreams, and loss.
"All memories fade away in the end. Then, only dreams are left. And because they are all we have, we confide our life's worries to them."
Born in Paris in 1962, Philippe Forest is the author of three novels and numerous essays on art and literature. He is currently a professor of literature at the University of Nantes.
Translator Pascale Torracinta has taught French literature at the University of Oxford and at the University of Geneva. She lives in Boston.