Nipponia Nippon by Kazushige Abe / ISBN 9781782278535 / 155-page paperback published in 2023 by Pushkin Press, from their new Japanese Novellas series
An off-kilter darkly ironic novella about a boy’s strange obsession with the Japanese crested ibis, from a Japanese literary star
Seventeen-year-old Haruo spends all his waking hours online, fixated on the endangered Japanese crested ibis, Nipponia Nippon. Alone in his Tokyo apartment, living off his parents’ indulgence, he descends into a fantasy world where he alone shares a bond with the last of these noble birds, their lives caged in the national conservation centre.
Haruo’s destiny becomes clear. He will free the birds―alive or dead―from an undeserving civilization. As Haruo’s emotional state grows increasingly erratic, he searches the internet for weapons and prepares for the night of reckoning.
Kazushige Abe is one of Japan's pre-eminent contemporary writers. A graduate of the Japanese Film School in Tokyo, he worked as an assistant director before turning his hand to writing. Since winning the Gunzo New Writers' Prize for his first novel, American Night, he has been awarded several of Japan's most prestigious literary prizes, including the Sei Ito Award, the Mainichi Culture Award, the Akutagawa Prize and the Tanizaki Prize.