Published in the US as The Lonesome Bodybuilder
Winner of the Akutagawa Prize and the Kenzaburo Oe Prize.
‘These arresting, hyper-real stories linger in the imagination . . . By the first few sentences, you know you’re hearing the voice of a remarkable writer; by the end of [the story] “An Exotic Marriage”, you’re certain that Yukiko Motoya’s shivery, murmuring voice will never completely leave you’ Financial Times
**‘Delightful . . . Fun and funny . . . The style will remind readers of the Japanese authors Banana Yoshimoto and Sayaka Murata, but the stories themselves . . . are reminiscent, at least to this reader, of Joy Williams and Rivka Galchen and George Saunders’ 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 businessmen struggling to keep their umbrellas open in a typhoon – until an old man shows him that they hold the secret to flying. A woman working 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 newly wed notices that her husband’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, through it, find a way to liberation. Winner of the Kenzaburo Oe Prize, Picnic in the Storm (published in the US as The Lonesome Bodybuilder) is the English-language debut of one of Japan’s most fearless young writers.
‘People around the world have been whispering Motoya’s name in my ear. Now she’s translated into English!’ Gary Shteyngart
‘Readers who still enjoy fiction for sheer entertainment should get their hands on these stories’ The Japan Times