by Nick Bradley
22 June 2023
'A finely drawn evocation of Japan, of youth, age, dreams, disillusionment, struggles and strength... A poignant and beautiful book.' Hazel Prior, author of Away with the Penguins From the author of The Cat and The City - 'vibrant and accomplished' David Mitchell - a BBC Radio 2 Book Club Pick. Flo is sick of Tokyo.
Suffering from a crisis in confidence, she is stuck in a rut, her translation work has dried up and she's in a relationship that's run its course. That's until she stumbles upon a mysterious book left by a fellow passenger on the Tokyo Subway. From the very first page, Flo is transformed and immediately feels compelled to translate this forgotten novel, a decision which sets her on a path that will change her life...
It is a story about Ayako, a fierce and strict old woman who runs a coffee shop in the small town of Onomichi, where she has just taken guardianship of her grandson, Kyo. Haunted by long-buried family tragedy, both have suffered extreme loss and feel unable to open up to each other. As Flo follows the characters across a year in rural Japan, through the ups and downs of the pair's burgeoning relationship, she quickly realises that she needs to venture outside the pages of the book to track down its elusive author.
And, as her two protagonists reveal themselves to have more in common with her life than first meets the eye, the lines between text and translator converge. The journey is just beginning. From the author of The Cat and The City, Four Seasons in Japan is a gorgeously crafted book-within-a-book about literature, purpose and what it is to belong.