The Life and Career of Yūko Tsushima: Background information when reading Territory of Light

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Territory of Light

A Novel

by Yuko Tsushima

Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima X
Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Feb 2019, 192 pages

    Paperback:
    Mar 2020, 192 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Michael Kaler
Buy This Book

About this Book

The Life and Career of Yūko Tsushima

This article relates to Territory of Light

Print Review

Author Yūko TsushimaBorn in 1947 in the Tokyo suburb of Mitaka, Yūko Tsushima was one of the most accomplished Japanese novelists of her generation at the time of her death from lung cancer in 2016. The author remains lesser known outside of Japan, but with the recent translations of Territory of Light and Of Dogs and Walls, there has been a small wave of critical and popular interest in her work in the English-speaking world.

Tsushima's work can be divided into two periods. Her earlier novels and stories experiment with the conventions of "I-fiction," a dominant narrative style of Japanese prose. The genre features a meditative first-person voice, a focus on intimate bonds between characters, and an interest in blurring the line between fact and fiction. Tsushima's later works, by contrast, are more formally daring and explicitly political. They reckon with Japan's cultural memory of empire, war and dispossession, and they consider the influence of state power on the household.

The author started her literary career with early success. As an aspiring writer, she contributed to the private literary magazine Bungei shuto, a nationally respected publication. Her earliest novels, published in the 1970s, cemented her reputation as an author of serious fiction. She won several prestigious prizes, including the Izumi Kyoka Prize (1977), the Women's Literature Prize (1978), and the Noma Prize for New Writers (1979). The author's critical acclaim continues to build even after her death.

Tsushima's 17 novels share many aesthetic tendencies and themes. They often feature single mothers and other figures marginalized in Japanese society, and they deal with themes of abandonment, economic hardship and female autonomy. The novels close the gap between the personal and the political, examining topical issues in Japan through the lens of women's daily lives.

The author herself endured plenty of hardship. Her father Osamu Dazai, a famous Japanese writer, infamously committed suicide with a lover and fan when Tsushima was just a girl; his drowning forms the basis of "The Watery Realm," a recently translated story included in Of Dogs and Walls. Later in life, the author found herself forced to provide for her family as a single mother, and one of her own children tragically drowned at an early age.

Currently six translations of Tsushima's fiction have been published in English: Child of Fortune (1978), Territory of Light (1979), Woman Running in the Mountains (1980), The Shooting Gallery & Other Stories (1973-84), Laughing Wolf (2001) and Of Dogs and Walls (1982-2014). With the exception of Laughing Wolf, Geraldine Harcourt has translated each of the books.

While the author's work isn't as internationally prominent as that of some of her peers, like Haruki Murakami or Yōko Tawada, Yūko Tsushima's output is impressive in scope and daring in style. It's not hard to see why writers such as Margaret Drabble and Donald Richie have likened Tsushima to Virginia Woolf and Jean Rhys. Her fiction fully renders the inner lives of women while meditating on social conflict; Territory of Light makes a welcome addition to any collection of translated fiction.

Author Yūko Tsushima, courtesy of The Japan Times

Filed under Books and Authors

Article by Michael Kaler

This "beyond the book article" relates to Territory of Light. It originally ran in February 2019 and has been updated for the March 2020 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.25 per month.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting
    Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting
    by Clare Pooley
    For the many years that I've been reading, one realization has always come to mind for me after ...
  • Book Jacket: We Had to Remove This Post
    We Had to Remove This Post
    by Hanna Bervoets
    It's not about money. Kayleigh, the protagonist and narrator of We Had to Remove This Post, a newly ...
  • Book Jacket: River of the Gods
    River of the Gods
    by Candice Millard
    The Nile River has provided vital resources for millennia, serving as a source of water, food and ...
  • Book Jacket: Horse
    Horse
    by Geraldine Brooks
    Geraldine Brooks creates a powerful backstory for 19th-century thoroughbred racehorse Lexington, ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
Hamnet
by Maggie O'Farrell
"Of all the stories...about Shakespeare’s life, [Hamnet] is so gorgeously written that it transports you."
The Boston Globe

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Lies I Tell
    by Julie Clark

    The new thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Last Flight!

  • Book Jacket

    Daughters of the Flower Fragrant Garden
    by Zhuqing Li

    A beautifully woven family memoir that coalesces into a vivid history of two very different Chinas.

Win This Book!
Win Where the Crawdads Sing

Win a signed copy of Where the Crawdads Sing

In celebration of the movie release on July 15, we have three signed copies to give away.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T O Thing W H T F I F I

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.