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A Cappella

A Cappella

By Mariko Koike
Translated by Juliet W. Carpenter

A tale of intense, heartbreaking love in adolescence and the tragedy it gives rise to. Nostalgia for a youth of intense sexuality overlaid by a haunting sense of impending doom is blended skilfully with the tumultuous era of the sixties in this undisputed masterpiece.

Hardback, 182 Pages


May 2013

£19.99, $34.95

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About This Book

This is a tale of intense, heartbreaking love in adolescence, and the tragedy it gives rise to. The story opens as the main character, Kyoko Noma, visits the city of Sendai, where she used to live, and reflects on the events that took place there 20 years earlier, in the second half of the sixties, when the winds of the counterculture student movement were sweeping Japan.

Kyoko, a 17-year-old high-school student living in the home of her aunt in Sendai, away from her parents, is making the most of her delinquent youth, serving as head of the ‘Fight to Abolish School Uniforms’ committee and attending antiwar folksong gatherings. One day she wanders into A Cappella, a coffee shop filled with the strains of Baroque music, and meets college student Wataru Domoto, his friend Yunosuke, and Yunosuke's girlfriend, Ema. Kyoko quickly falls for Wataru, who exudes a peculiar air of nihilism. The pair become lovers, but Wataru's irresolution and inscrutability play havoc with Kyoko's emotions. She is tormented by the air of mystery surrounding him and the other two: Yunosuke, who sticks to Wataru like a shadow, and Ema, who is in love with Yunosuke.

The air of mystery pervading the story from the beginning is slowly dispelled through Kyoko's reminiscences, a technique which the author, a master mystery writer, uses with sure command. Nostalgia for a youth of intense sexuality overlaid by a haunting sense of impending doom is blended skilfully with the tumultuous era of the sixties in this undisputed masterpiece.


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Author Information

Mariko Koike (born 1952) is a widely published best-selling Japanese author and winner of the Mystery Writers of Japan Award for Short Stories (1989), the Naoki Prize (1995), the Shimase Award for Love Stories (1998), the Shibata Renzaburo Award (2006) and the MEXT Award for the Arts (2012).

Juliet W. Carpenter teaches at Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts in Kyoto and works as a freelance translator.


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