Grieving Places: Background information when reading The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World

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The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World

A Novel

by Laura Imai Messina

The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai  Messina X
The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai  Messina
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    Mar 2021, 416 pages


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Grieving Places

This article relates to The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World

Glass phone booth with disconnected rotary phoneIn The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World, author Laura Imai Messina crafts a fictional story around a real-life place of public mourning, a phone booth, in the Japanese town of Otsuchi, located about three hours inland in northeastern Japan. A man named Itaru Sasaki built the glass booth with a rotary phone inside after the death of a cousin in 2010. He imagined he could use the phone to call his cousin and it became a means of coping with his grief. Not long after Sasaki's personal loss, tragedy struck on a grander scale when a massive earthquake and tsunami hit Japan's northeast coast on March 11, 2011, killing over 15,000 people. In the aftermath, Sasaki opened his phone booth to the public as a place of grieving. It's estimated that 10,000 people visited the booth in the following three years.

After a tragedy like the tsunami, there is often an outpouring of public mourning, and later, perhaps a memorial is constructed for the purpose of giving people a space to grieve —...

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