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Yōko Ogawa - book author

Yōko Ogawa (小川 洋子) was born in Okayama, Okayama Prefecture, graduated from Waseda University, and lives in Ashiya. Since 1988, she has published more than twenty works of fiction and nonfiction. Her novel The Professor and his Beloved Equation has been made into a movie. In 2006 she co-authored „An Introduction to the World's Most Elegant Mathematics“ with Masahiko Fujiwara, a mathematician, as a dialogue on the extraordinary beauty of numbers.

A film in French, „L'Annulaire“ (The Ringfinger), directed by Diane Bertrand, starring Olga Kurylenko and Marc Barbé, was released in France in June 2005 and subsequently made the rounds of the international film festivals; the film, some of which is filmed in the Hamburg docks, is based in part on Ogawa's „Kusuriyubi no hyōhon“ (薬指の標本), translated into French as „L'Annulaire“ (by Rose-Marie Makino-Fayolle who has translated numerous works by Ogawa, as well as works by Akira Yoshimura and by Ranpo Edogawa, into French).

Kenzaburō Ōe has said, 'Yōko Ogawa is able to give expression to the most subtle workings of human psychology in prose that is gentle yet penetrating.' The subtlety in part lies in the fact that Ogawa's characters often seem not to know why they are doing what they are doing. She works by accumulation of detail, a technique that is perhaps more successful in her shorter works; the slow pace of development in the longer works requires something of a deus ex machina to end them. The reader is presented with an acute description of what the protagonists, mostly but not always female, observe and feel and their somewhat alienated self-observations, some of which is a reflection of Japanese society and especially women's roles within in it. The tone of her works varies, across the works and sometimes within the longer works, from the surreal, through the grotesque and the--sometimes grotesquely--humorous, to the psychologically ambiguous and even disturbing.

Yōko Ogawa is the author of books: The Housekeeper and the Professor, Revenge, The Diving Pool: Three Novellas, Cristallisation Secrète, Hotel Iris, غرفة مثالية لرجل مريض, L'Annulaire, El embarazo de mi hermana, Parfum de glace, Le Musée du silence

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01
He is a brilliant math Professor with a peculiar problem--ever since a traumatic head injury, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory.

She is an astute young Housekeeper, with a ten-year-old son, who is hired to care for him.

And every morning, as the Professor and the Housekeeper are introduced to each other anew, a strange and beautiful relationship blossoms between them. Though he cannot hold memories for long (his brain is like a tape that begins to erase itself every eighty minutes), the Professor’s mind is still alive with elegant equations from the past. And the numbers, in all of their articulate order, reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the Housekeeper and her young son. The Professor is capable of discovering connections between the simplest of quantities--like the Housekeeper’s shoe size--and the universe at large, drawing their lives ever closer and more profoundly together, even as his memory slips away.

The Housekeeper and the Professor is an enchanting story about what it means to live in the present, and about the curious equations that can create a family.
02
Sinister forces draw together a cast of desperate characters in this eerie and absorbing novel from Yoko Ogawa.

An aspiring writer moves into a new apartment and discovers that her landlady has murdered her husband. Years later, the writer’s stepson reflects upon his stepmother and the strange stories she used to tell him. Meanwhile, a surgeon’s lover vows to kill him if he does not leave his wife. Before she can follow-through on her crime of passion, though, the surgeon will cross paths with another remarkable woman, a cabaret singer whose heart beats delicately outside of her body. But when the surgeon promises to repair her condition, he sparks the jealousy of another man who would like to preserve the heart in a custom tailored bag. Murderers and mourners, mothers and children, lovers and innocent bystanders—their fates converge in a darkly beautiful web that they are each powerless to escape.

Macabre, fiendishly clever, and with a touch of the supernatural, Yoko Ogawa’s Revenge creates a haunting tapestry of death—and the afterlife of the living.
03
From Akutagawa Award-winning author Yoko Ogawa comes a haunting trio of novellas about love, fertility, obsession, and how even the most innocent gestures may contain a hairline crack of cruel intent. A lonely teenage girl falls in love with her foster brother as she watches him leap from a high diving board into a pool—a peculiar infatuation that sends unexpected ripples through her life. A young woman records the daily moods of her pregnant sister in a diary, taking meticulous note of a pregnancy that may or may not be a hallucination—but whose hallucination is it, hers or her sister's? A woman nostalgically visits her old college dormitory on the outskirts of Tokyo, a boarding house run by a mysterious triple amputee with one leg.

Hauntingly spare, beautiful, and twisted, The Diving Pool is a disquieting and at times darkly humorous collection of novellas about normal people who suddenly discover their own dark possibilities.
04
L’île où se déroule cette histoire est depuis toujours soumise à un étrange phénomène : les choses et les êtres semblent promis à une sorte d’effacement diaboliquement orchestré. Quand un matin les oiseaux disparaissent à jamais, la jeune narratrice de ce livre ne s’épanche pas sur cet événement dramatique, le souvenir du chant d’un oiseau s’est évanoui tout comme celui de l’émotion que provoquaient en elle la beauté d’une fleur, la délicatesse d’un parfum, la mort d’un être cher. Après les animaux, les roses, les photographies, les calendriers et les livres, les humains semblent touchés : une partie de leur corps va les abandonner.
En ces lieux demeurent pourtant de singuliers personnages. Habités de souvenirs, en proie à la nostalgie, ces êtres sont en danger. Traqués par les chasseurs de mémoires, ils font l’objet de rafles terrifiantes…
Un magnifique roman, angoissant, kafkaïen. Une subtile métaphore des régimes totalitaires, à travers laquelle Yoko Ogawa explore les ravages de la peur et ceux de l’insidieux phénomène d’effacement des images, des souvenirs, qui peut conduire à accepter le pire.
05
A tale of twisted love from Yoko Ogawa—author of The Diving Pool and The Housekeeper and the Professor.

In a crumbling seaside hotel on the coast of Japan, quiet seventeen-year-old Mari works the front desk as her mother tends to the off-season customers. When one night they are forced to expel a middle-aged man and a prostitute from their room, Mari finds herself drawn to the man's voice, in what will become the first gesture of a single long seduction. In spite of her provincial surroundings, and her cool but controlling mother, Mari is a sophisticated observer of human desire, and she sees in this man something she has long been looking for.

The man is a proud if threadbare translator living on an island off the coast. A widower, there are whispers around town that he may have murdered his wife. Mari begins to visit him on his island, and he soon initiates her into a dark realm of both pain and pleasure, a place in which she finds herself more at ease even than the translator. As Mari's mother begins to close in on the affair, Mari's sense of what is suitable and what is desirable are recklessly engaged.

Hotel Iris is a stirring novel about the sometimes violent ways in which we express intimacy and about the untranslatable essence of love.
07
Dans un ancien foyer de jeunes filles transformé en laboratoire, M. Deshimaru, taxidermiste du souvenir, prépare et surveille des "spécimens", tandis que la narratrice de ce récit, assistante et réceptionniste, accueille les clients venus confier au mystérieux spécialiste d'insolites bribes de leur histoire : des ossements d'oiseau, quelques champignons microscopiques, une mélodie, une cicatrice...

Amputée d'une infime partie d'elle-même depuis un accident du travail, la jeune assistante tombe peu à peu sous le charme du maître de ce lieu de mémoire malsain et fascinant.
08
Creadora de un universo obsesivo y poseedora de una escritura de exigencia, economía y agudeza notables, Yoko Ogawa, autora de culto en Japón, Francia y Alemania, gracias a esta obra, que vendió más de 300.000 ejemplares y que fue galardonada con el prestigioso Premio Akutagawa en 1991, logró situarse en el lugar más destacado dentro de las letras niponas.
En El embarazo de mi hermana la narradora nos describe, con insólito talento y bajo forma de diario, el embarazo de su hermana mayor; y lo hace de una manera aparentemente fría y analítica aunque no exenta de ironía. Así, pasada la fase de las nauseas, la embarazada recupera su voraz apetito y se pone a engullir compulsivamente una mermelada de pomelo que le prepara su hermana, episodio clave que llevará el relato a un inesperado desenlace.
Metáfora de la soledad y del sentimiento de pérdida para la mujer japonesa de hoy en día, esta parábola se empieza leyendo con fascinación y luego no sin algo de pavor.
10
Un jeune muséographe vient d'entrer en fonction dans un manoir aux confins du monde. Sous la direction d'une vieille femme plutôt étrange, il devra recenser, agencer, mettre en scène une véritable collection d'objets, de reliques du quotidien, de vestiges d'une intimité disparue et pourtant soutirée depuis des années aux défunts du village voisin. Car ces objets ont un seul point commun : ils furent tous volés quelques heures après la mort de leur propriétaire... Empreintes du temps qui passe, variations autour de la mémoire, accumulations, obsessions : la mission de cet homme est complexe car le musée du Silence devra être à la hauteur des souvenirs de la vieille dame.