literary journalism

Andrés Neuman’s ‘Fracture’

In Andrés Neuman’s latest novel, we meet Yoshie Watanabe, a retired electronics executive, in a Tokyo subway station one afternoon when he feels a vibration, then a tremor, before “the floor cease[s] to be a floor.” What he’s experiencing is the magnitude-9 earthquake that triggered the 2011 tsunami—the costliest natural disaster in world history—and the meltdown of nuclear reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

“An earthquake fractures the present, shatters perspective, shifts memory plates,” writes Neuman. On the surface, Yoshie is a lucky man. Visiting Hiroshima with his father in August of 1945, he survived the devastation of the atomic blast simply by virtue of wearing white clothes and standing against a yellow wall (lighter colours, he would learn, absorb less energy). He then missed his scheduled train home to Nagasaki, narrowly escaping the second target of the Allied attack. Yoshie doesn’t like to talk about the war and refuses to identify as a survivor, feeling it’s undeserved as his injuries were relatively minor. But the tragedy, including the loss of his parents and sisters, reverberates throughout his life… 

Read the full article online in the Irish Times

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