Mild Vertigo (Paperback)

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Mild Vertigo By Mieko Kanai, Polly Barton (Translated by), Kate Zambreno (Introduction by) Cover Image

Mild Vertigo (Paperback)

By Mieko Kanai, Polly Barton (Translated by), Kate Zambreno (Introduction by)


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In this intoxicating stream-of-consciousness novel, Mieko Kanai tackles the existential traps of motherhood, marriage, and domestic captivity

The apparently unremarkable Natsumi lives in a modern Tokyo apartment with her husband and two sons: she does the laundry, goes to the supermarket, visits friends, and gossips with neighbors. Tracing her conversations and interactions with her family and friends as they blend seamlessly into her own infernally buzzing internal monologue, Mild Vertigo explores the dizzying reality of being unable to locate oneself in the endless stream of minutiae that forms a lonely life confined to a middle-class home, where both everything and nothing happens.

With shades of Clarice Lispector, Elena Ferrante, and Kobo Abe, this verbally acrobatic novel by the esteemed novelist, essayist, and critic Mieko Kanai—whose work enjoys a cult status in Japan—is a disconcerting and radically imaginative portrait of selfhood in late-stage capitalist society.

Born in 1947, Mieko Kanai is a novelist, poet, essayist, and critic. She has published around thirty novels and short story collections, and her critical essays have been featured in Japanese newspapers and magazines for almost fifty years. In the English-speaking world, she is perhaps best known for her story “Rabbits,” a gory retelling of Alice in Wonderland where a young girl puts on a suit made of freshly skinned rabbit fur.

Polly Barton is a writer and Japanese translator based in Bristol. Her translations include Aoko Matsuda’s Where the Wild Ladies Are, Kikuko Tsumura’s There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job, and Tomoka Shibasaki’s Spring Garden. In 2019, she won the Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize for her debut book Fifty Sounds. Her second book, Porn: An Oral History, is forthcoming.

Kate Zambreno is the author of eight books, most recently the novel Drifts and a study of Hervé Guibert, To Write As If Already Dead.
Product Details ISBN: 9780811232289
ISBN-10: 081123228X
Publisher: New Directions
Publication Date: May 2nd, 2023
Pages: 192
Language: English
For me, Mieko Kanai’s writing represents one of the high points of Japanese literature. The tiny details giving shape to the everyday, the daily repetitions, the memories that come suddenly flooding back, other people’s voices—all of these described in winding, iridescent prose. Their utter ordinariness, their utter irreplaceability, make for a reading experience brimming with joy from start to finish.
— Hiroko Oyamada

Mieko Kanai is not interested in describing objects; she wants to accentuate their amorphous nature.
— Sofia Samata - The Paris Review