Kinship Between Kentucky and Northeast Japan Found in 'Horses, Horses'

By Gail Hairston

(March 8, 2016) — Five years ago this Friday, the world watched in horrified disbelief as one disaster after another pummeled Japan to submission … earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear meltdown.

Some say northeast Japan may never completely recover from its own private apocalypse; yet the island nation’s authors, artists and philosophers are determined to help their country and the world understand and convalesce.  

“Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure,” the most recent work by Hideo Furukawa, as translated by University of Kentucky Professor of Japan Studies Doug Slaymaker, is gathering global acclaim for its ability to capture the shock and disorientation of the event.

Slaymaker will do a reading and discussion of “Horses, Horses” at 5:30 p.m. Friday, March 11, at The Morris Book Shop, located at 882 E. High St., Lexington.

Facinated by the overlaps between Appalachia and the mountainous region of Japan and the obvious connection between Furukawa's subject matter and Kentucky's horse obsession, Slaymaker has written a new translation of the award winning, "Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure."

“Something of a novel, something of a road trip memoir, ‘Horses, Horses’ is one of the most important interactions with the earthquake, tsunami and meltdown of March 11, 2011,” said Slaymaker. “I find it compelling as a work that engages with oral histories and forgotten tales from rugged regions that are the source of extractive technologies; it is a work, that is, that takes up many issues that resonate strongly within Appalachia.”

In its review, the Columbia University Press, declared, “Furukawa travels back to his childhood home near Fukushima after 3/11 to reconnect with a place that is now doubly alien. His ruminations conjure the region's storied past, particularly its thousand-year history of horses, humans, and the struggle with a rugged terrain. Standing in the morning light, these horses also tell their stories, heightening the sense of liberation, chaos, and loss that accompanies Furukawa's rich recollections. A fusion of fiction, history, and memoir, this book … draws its own, unforgettable portrait of personal and cultural dislocation.”

A novelist now living in Tokyo, Furukawa has received the Noma Literary New Face Prize, the Mystery Writers of Japan Award, the Japan SF Grand Prize, and the Yukio Mishima Award.

For more about “Horses, Horses” visit: www.wordswithoutborders.org/dispatches/article/spirited-away-hideo-furukawas-horse-horses-in-the-innocence-of-lightwww.wordswithoutborders.org/dispatches/article/spirited-away and http://apjjf.org/2015/13/10/Doug-Slaymaker/4298.html.

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