Bookclub Review : Days At the Morisaki Bookshop, Satoshi Yagisawa.                           Jan 2024

 Well, at least we started the year with something gentle to ease us in.  As was discussed during our meetings, sometimes the best books are simply the right book at the right time, and everyone post- Christmas was grateful for a lighter read.

The scores were an even mix, although I don’t think anyone will be singling this out next Christmas as our best read of the year.  Only 14% gave it a score of 4 or more,  41% were in the mid-range 3-3.5 category, and 45% of our readers scored it less than 3 out of 5. It’s always interesting how the negative voices are those that stick in my memory and when I come to re-read the notes there are often positives written down that I’ve forgotten.

Generally we enjoyed the sense of difference, the sense of an authentic Japanese setting, a strong visual description and the cultural sensibility – if only to highlight just how far from our own culture the Japanese are. We may also have missed out on some subtleties with the references to other works of Japanese literature. The slightly too traditional man / woman / work relationship grated a bit on our Western sensibilities too.

Many commented that it felt like two separate books – the bookshop setting and the ‘other’ – with a seemingly random climb up a mountain at one point.  Our main character Takako was sympathetic and we enjoyed her journey of recovery and growth, aided by her likeable and eccentric uncle. As the aunt comes in at a later stage, she felt very much like a character from a previous book that we hadn’t read (and no, that book doesn’t exist in Japanese).

The ‘detached’ nature of characters and relationships wasn’t for everyone, some found it hard to empathise with. But it begs the question – which we may not get a definitive answer to – is this ‘unknowingness’ deliberate ?  It is a moment in time, with clearly much before, which the author chooses not to over elaborate on, leaving us to fill in the blanks with our imagination and perhaps prompting us towards some existential musings about what makes a fulfilling life. Or is it just a bit bland and glib?

Overall, someone coined it as “little sparks but no fire” which seems to sum it up nicely. An evocative read, with a cosy bookshop setting  – and a great cover. Points were given simply on the strength of the design, it has to be said.


P.S.: ‘’ is a great addition to reading fiction in translation for those of you who like to know how things should sound😊


March 18, 2024 by Books Scissors

Leave a comment