The Lonesome Bodybuilder: Stories (Paperback)
My favorite short story writers test the waters of strangeness. In The Lonesome Bodybuilder, Yukiko Motoya forgoes dipping a toe in, opting instead for a splash-contest cannonball into the bizarre. Tiny musical instruments spill from the mouth of a man made of straw, a fighting villainess cries tears of blood, mountain peonies bloom from discarded underwear. It's not just weird for weirdness's sake. Somehow, Motoya's fantastical scenarios elucidate the most universal challenges: relationships, loneliness, and human connection. It's Kafka, with Flannery O’Connor’s empathy. -Shawn— From Winter Gazette 2018
November 2018 Indie Next List
“Yukiko Motoya takes the mundane and brilliantly spikes it with the fantastical, the aberrant, and the all-out unexpected. These stories tilt the axis of reality by degrees, deftly inverting scenes of both solitude and cohabitation, pitting the personal against the domestic. Amid increasingly splashy motifs, The Lonesome Bodybuilder asks how we define ourselves through our relationships to others and whether our true identities can ever be known. Buoyant, charming, and layered with intent, this collection deserves a bevy of admirers.”
— Justin Walls, Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing, Beaverton, OR
Winner of the Akutagawa Prize and the Kenzaburo Oe Prize
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice "In Yukiko Motoya's delightful new story collection, the familiar becomes unfamiliar . . . Certainly the style will remind readers of the Japanese authors Banana Yoshimoto and Sayaka Murata, but the stories themselves--and the logic, or lack thereof, within their sentences--are reminiscent, at least to this reader, of Joy Williams and Rivka Galchen and George Saunders." --Weike Wang, The New York Times Book Review A housewife takes up bodybuilding and sees radical changes to her physique, which her workaholic husband fails to notice. A boy waits at a bus stop, mocking commuters struggling to keep their umbrellas open in a typhoon, until an old man shows him that they hold the secret to flying. A saleswoman in a clothing boutique waits endlessly on a customer who won't come out of the fitting room, and who may or may not be human. A newlywed notices that her spouse's features are beginning to slide around his face to match her own. In these eleven stories, the individuals who lift the curtains of their orderly homes and workplaces are confronted with the bizarre, the grotesque, the fantastic, the alien--and find a doorway to liberation. The English-language debut of one of Japan's most fearlessly inventive young writers.
About the Author
Asa Yoneda was born in Osaka and studied language, literature, and translation at University of Oxford and SOAS University of London. She now lives in Bristol, U.K. In addition to Yukiko Motoya, she has translated works by Banana Yoshimoto, Aoko Matsuda, and Natsuko Kuroda.