Beautiful and heart-wrenching. Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms is a masterpiece of tragedy, despair, hope, and life.
Nothing happens in a vacuum. Even insignificant events can have ripple effects that reach impossibly far from their center. The bombing of Hiroshima in World War II was an extremely significant, and tragic, event. The immediate effects were obvious, and frightening. But it’s the less obvious ripples that Fumiyo Kouno relates to us in these incredible stories.
This collection has three parts: Town of Evening Calm, and Country of Cherry Blossoms 1 and 2. Town is the story of a young woman living in Hiroshima 10 years after the bombing. Country part 1 is set 33 years later and features her brother and his children, particularly his daughter. Country part 2 follows the same characters 17 years later. Through them we see the long lasting effects of the bomb. Kouno lets them rise from the story naturally, illuminating both the obvious and more subtle effects with great finesse.
As you might imagine these are tales heavily shadowed with sadness, fear and melancholy, but that is as it should be. Town and Country is set in real times and examines how everyday life was changed forever by a single horrible moment. That it manages to do so in a way that resonates authenticity, from characters and happenings that feel real to art that perfectly enhances the emotions pouring forth, is an unbelievable accomplishment.
A masterpiece in every possible way, Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms should be on every adult’s reading list.