Death in Midsummer by Yukio Mishima

Death in Midsummer and Other stories is a short story collection by Japanese author Yukio Mishima. The first story gives the book its title. I’ve only read the first story and I loved it. I’ll write about the other stories, updating this post as and when I read them.

Death in Midsummer is translated by Edward G. Seidensticker. On a family vacation at a beach resort, while Tomoko Ikuta is taking a nap in her room, her three children and their aunt Yasue are on the beach. A freak accident leads to the death of Yasue and two children. The story is about what’s left of the little family dealing with their sudden loss.

The story is frank and simple. It is more like a chapter out of someone’s life; without a real plot but in a way, complete. In contrast to the helpless feeling that Ishiguro’s stories brought, Death in Midsummer is precise. The way the characters deal with death and family is very real. The relationships between the characters, the husband and wife are at once delicate and strong. They aren’t always able to understand each other or are puzzled by how they both react to a same situation in two completely different ways. Their reactions are described with a calm lack of drama, that very few books about loss manage, and I could relate to it perfectly. The writing is shockingly vivid. I hope to read more stories from the collection soon. In the meanwhile, if you like Japanese Literature, check out this challenge.