People Who Talk to Stuffed Animals Are Nice
citită de Andrew Grace
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A fresh, thoughtful, and always surprising short story collection from a rising young star in the world of Japanese literature.
Composed of the title novella and three short stories, People Who Talk to Stuffed Animals Are Nice sensitively explores gender, friendship, romance, love, human interaction and its absence, and how a misogynistic society limits women and men.
In the title story, Nanamori and Mugito, two university students appalled by society’s gendered roles, rebel. Refusing to interact with other people they use stuffed toys for emotional support. Unlike Nanamori and Mugito, their fellow plushie society member Shiraki does not talk to plushies. Pragmatic, she accepts the status quo that boys sometimes make nasty jokes; she believes their behavior resembles the real world.
In “Realizing Fun Things Through Water,” a young woman named Hatsuoka must contend with a mother-in-law who swears by cancer-preventing “hyper-organization” water, and a sister who writes fake news for a living. “Bath Towel Visuals” illuminates the mental cost of not just laughing along at mean humor, while “Hello, Thank You I’m Okay” follows a family’s response when their shut-in son announces he wants to throw himself a birthday party.
Written in brisk and gentle prose, Ao Omae’s stories capture the subtleties and complexities of his characters’ inner world, individuals struggling to conform in an inflexible society little tolerant of difference. These stories, sometimes comical, sometimes bittersweet, and always thought-provoking, speak to the pain and desires of all who embrace nuance, repudiate traditional sex roles, and long for a gentler and more tolerant world.
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Born 1992 in Hyogo Prefecture, Ao Omae is a rising star of gender-conscious literature in Japan. He is the author of the novels People Who Talk to Stuffed Animals Are Nice and I Don’t Want Anything but Interesting, and a collection of flash fiction A Room for a Crocodile, My Sister, and Me. Ao lives in Tokyo.
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