About the Book 

A housewife takes up bodybuilding and sees radical changes to her physique, which her workaholic husband fails to notice. A boy waits at a bus stop, mocking commuters struggling to keep their umbrellas open in a typhoon, until an old man shows him that they hold the secret to flying. A saleswoman in a clothing boutique waits endlessly on a customer who won’t come out of the fitting room, and who may or may not be human. A newlywed notices that her spouse’s features are beginning to slide around his face to match her own.

In these eleven stories, the individuals who lift the curtains of their orderly homes and workplaces are confronted with the bizarre, the grotesque, the fantastic, the alien—and find a doorway to liberation. The English-language debut of one of Japan’s most fearlessly inventive young writers.

Read an excerpt from The Lonesome Bodybuilder

Author Bio

Yukiko Motoya was born in Ishikawa Prefecture in Japan in 1979. After moving to Tokyo to study drama, she started the Motoya Yukiko Theater Company, whose plays she wrote and directed. Her first story, “Eriko to zettai,” appeared in the literary magazine Gunzo in 2002. Motoya won the Noma Prize for New Writers for Warm Poison in 2011; the Kenzaburo Oe Prize for Picnic in the Storm in 2013; the Mishima Yukio Prize for How She Learned to Love Herself in 2014; and Japan’s most prestigious literary prize, the Akutagawa Prize, for An Exotic Marriage in 2016. Her books have been published or are forthcoming in French, Norwegian, Spanish, and Chinese, and her stories have been published in English in GrantaWords Without BordersTender, and Catapult.

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Electric Lit

Excerpt: The Lonesome Bodybuilder

“The gong sounded, and the men stood up. I’d assumed that throwing out punches was all there was to it, but the boxers guarded against every blow, observing each other’s movements with eagle eyes. That must be what they call dynamic vision. If only I had some dynamic vision too, I might not have missed out on so many things. The match was over, and they sounded the biggest gong yet.

“The very next day, I started training to become a bodybuilder.”

The Atlantic

Feature on The Lonesome Bodybuilder

“Left to their own devices, these characters may have been content with the status quo, but the universe Motoya builds taunts them with their secret motivations until they’re forced to confront them publicly.”