Excerpt from Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolas Obregon, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Blue Light Yokohama

by Nicolas Obregon

Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolas Obregon X
Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolas Obregon
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  • Published:
    Mar 2017, 416 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Gary Presley
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Print Excerpt

Through the window, Iwata observed mundane details of mundane towns. A woman at a red light scratched her elbow. Schoolchildren painted over a graffitied wall. An old lady on a bench watched cellophane wrapping rolling past her in the breeze. A mistaken bee butted against the window of a closed pharmacy. A car alone in a rice paddy, its security alarm blinking needlessly.

A little before 5 P.M., Iwata arrived at his destination—a nothing town near Lake Nojiri. He got into the only taxi outside the station and asked for the Nakamura Institute. He passed derelict factories and long-failed businesses scheduled for demolition; the last remaining blots of the old way. The driver was listening to a radio report regarding a deep-water drilling conglomerate that had defrauded a midsized bank. His white-gloved hands hardly moved on the wheel.

Iwata looked up through the sunroof at the deepening dusk. In the distance, cranes were motionless, a profitable future waiting to be built. He made out a slogan.


Iwata stopped at the only shop near the institute to buy fresh fruit and several pairs of thick socks. The old lady at the till smiled at him.


Iwata nodded and left. The path up to the institute was steep and long. Despite the chill, he was sweating by the time he reached the main entrance. The receptionist recognized Iwata and bowed. As she led him through the secured corridor, she looked down at the disinfected floor.

"I'm sorry to mention it but it appears that you're seven weeks behind on your payments…"

"Forgive me, I must have made an awful miscalculation. I'll rectify this as soon as I get back to Tokyo."

The nurse nodded apologetically.

"She's outside for sunset. Please go through."

Iwata thanked her and stepped into a large, well-kept garden. Patients were planting flowers at the far end. Papier-mâché flamingos and elephants swayed in the breeze. Colorful pinwheels spun. From an open window, he heard a woman practicing her vocal scales. At the other end of the garden, near the tree line, Iwata saw her. Cleo was lying on a sun bed, covered in a blanket.

The lights of the city are so pretty.

His stomach lurched as it always did when he saw her. It had always been this way, but it was a different kind of lurch these days.

I'm happy with you. Please let me hear.

He took a white plastic chair and sat down next to her. Cleo was Iwata's age, midthirties, her blond hair recently cut into a rough, short bob. Her skin was paler than he remembered. Her dark blue eyes were fixed on the distance.

"Hello." He spoke in English.

Birdsong fluttered through the dusky branches above them.

I walk and I walk, swaying like a small boat in your arms.

He reached out for her hand and gripped it sheepishly, his lips trembling. It was small, its warmth faded like a pebble plucked from the beach.

I'm happy with you. Please let me hear.

Realizing he must be hurting her, Iwata let it go.

"I bought you some fruit. Some socks, too. They always lose yours."

She said nothing as he placed the bag beside her.

"I'll ask them to stitch your name in. They won't get mixed up that way."

She still considered the horizon, as though she had decided to do only this for the rest of her life.

"You look strong, Cleo. You look … well."

I'm happy with you. Please let me hear. Those words of love from you.

Iwata began to sob into his hands.

"You fucking bitch. You fucking bitch. You fucking bitch."

*   *   *

It was after 1 A.M. when Iwata reached his apartment in Motoyoyogicho. In the corridor, he stepped over tricycles, bundles of newspapers, and fallen mops. The microwave's clock bathed his apartment in weak green. Seeing his boxes heaped in the corner, he looked away. He would have to move them soon. But not tomorrow.

Excerpted from Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolas Obregon. Copyright © 2017 by Nicolas Obregon. Excerpted by permission of Minotaur Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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