Fujisan, by Randy Taguchi. Amazon Crossing, 2012
While little known in America- ‘Fujisan’ is only her second book released in English- Randy Taguchi has written 14 novels and many short stories and essays and is immensely popular in Japan. The four stories in ‘Fujjisan’ are all set on or near Mt. Fuji. That, and the fact that all four protagonists are struggling psychologically, is what connects these stories together. In ‘Blue Summit’, a former cult member working in a convenience store strives to deal with life now that he is allowed free will. ‘Sea of Trees’ is a coming of age story, as three boys in their early teens meet danger and death for the first time. ‘Jamila’ is the name of a hoarder, the psychological opposite of the narrator, who throws away his past like dirty hankies. In ‘Child of Light’, a nurse faces life and death and the human spirit- far from the first time for her- as she wonders about her future.
The protagonists are all struggling to reconcile their images of themselves. Faced with change on a deep level, they are all knocked off balance and into new understanding of themselves by other people. The stories are quiet and reflective like a Japanese garden but deeply moving.