Author: Michelle Bailat Jones
Type of book: Japan, Kirishima Island, Asian female/white male, storm, infidelity, typhoon, preparations, aftereffects, wild animals, mysteries, secrets, 2000s
Year it was published: 2014
What if you could rewrite a tragedy? What if you could give grace to someone s greatest mistake? Huddled beneath the volcanoes of the Kirishima mountain range in southern Japan, also called the Fog Island Mountains, the inhabitants of small town Komachi are waiting for the biggest of the summer's typhoons. South African expatriate Alec Chester has lived in Komachi for nearly forty years. Alec considers himself an ordinary man, with common troubles and mundane achievements until his doctor gives him a terminal cancer diagnosis and his wife, Kanae, disappears into the gathering storm. Kanae flees from the terrifying reality of Alec's diagnosis, even going so far as to tell a childhood friend that she is already a widow. Her willful avoidance of the truth leads her to commit a grave infidelity, and only when Alec is suspected of checking himself out of the hospital to commit a quiet suicide does Kanae come home to face what it will mean to lose her husband. Narrating this story is Azami, one of Komachi's oldest and most peculiar inhabitants, the daughter of a famous storyteller with a mysterious story of her own. A haunting and beautiful reinterpretation of the Japanese kitsune folktale tradition, Fog Island Mountains is a novel about the dangers of action taken in grief and of a belief in healing through storytelling.
The characters are seen through unique lenses, and I feel that while certain characters are given background stories and actions, many are seen through modern terms, and the storyteller herself remains a mystery for all, and yes, I wanted to know more about her. First there is Kanae who married Alec and had three kids with him. Kanae, I would guess, is impulsive and fearful of what will happen in the future, and I also think she longs back for her childhood. Alec the husband has been diagnosed with cancer recently and he is best described as loyal and a good father to their children. I do admit that there are a lot of characters and its a bit hard of keeping track of all of them.
Life is a cycle
The story is told in both first and third person narratives, the first person from Azami who seems to know what's going on everything with everyone, and third person is when she's telling from a character's point of view or emotions, such as Kanae and Alec and the neighbors and children. I often felt that the storm mirrored human emotions or thoughts or actions for that matter, in particular the storm and the chapter names acted as catalysts for human emotions. I do admit that I grew frustrated towards the end because to me it seemed as if the questions went unanswered instead of answered.
Michelle Bailat-Jones is a writer and translator. Her novel Fog Island Mountains won the Christopher Doheny Award from the Center for Fiction in New York City. She translated Charles Ferdinand Ramuz s 1927 Swiss classic Beauty on Earth. She is the reviews editor at the web journal Necessary Fiction, and her fiction, poetry, translations, and criticism have appeared in a number of journals, including the Kenyon Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, the Quarterly Conversation, PANK, Spolia Mag, Two Serious Ladies, and the Atticus Review. Michelle lives in Switzerland.
Probably within the first few pages I really loved the description and the story and enjoyed the writing which was breath-taking and really reminded me of The Story of Land and Sea by Katy Simpson Smith. I was quickly sucked in into the unusual writing style of it being told in both first and third person narrative from different characters and it also appealed to me because I love reading and learning about Asian cultures and countries. While the author is able to keep the momentum of the story and keep the audience turning the pages, I have to say that I'm pretty confused by what I should have taken away or learned from reading it. Also towards the end the story felt stretched instead of being natural.
This is for TLC Book Tour
Michelle Bailat-Jones TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Tuesday, November 4th: The Discerning Reader
Thursday, November 6th: BookNAround
Tuesday, November 11th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, November 13th: Bell, Book, & Candle
Monday, November 17th: Book Nerd
Thursday, November 20th: Too Fond
Tuesday, December 2nd: Bibliotica
Wednesday, December 3rd: Regular Rumination
Friday, December 5th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Monday, December 8th: Book Dilettante
Tuesday, December 9th: Olduvai Reads
Wednesday, December 10th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)