Ninjo

Penelope Fitzgerald

Banana Yoshimoto contributes a respectful preface to her book, dedicating it to her publisher, and thanking the manager of the restaurant where she supported herself while she was writing it and the professors who voted her a prize – ‘it made me so very happy.’ This dutifulness sounds traditional. Traditional, too, when you get to the novellas themselves, are the violent emotions restrained within cramped but manageable limits and the compelling need for analogy between the human predicament and the natural world. ‘I understood it from the colour of the sky, the shape of the moon, the blackness of the night sky under which we passed.’ ‘The sky outside was a dull gray. Waves of clouds were being pushed around by the wind with amazing force. In this world there is no place for sadness.’ ‘The scratching of our pens mingled with the sound of raindrops beginning to fall in the transparent stillness of evening.’

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