Cover

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Title Page, Other Works in the Series, Copyright, Epigraph

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Chapter 1

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pp. 1-2

In fact, there was nothing to be illuminated before Mr. Okuda opened the box. If Mr. Okuda had never opened the box, nothing would exist. The world began only at the instant that Mr. Okuda opened the box and said the word. He said: Yoshiko. ...

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Chapter 2

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pp. 3-4

Under the reflection of red lights on the wet asphalt, the nocturnal submarine sails under the foundation of buildings, between electric cables, sewage tunnels, and the subway. The pieces of this submerged vessel are bugs on telephones, cameras, and microphones hidden in rooms and one-way mirrors in bathrooms all over the city. ...

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Chapter 3

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pp. 5-8

The landscape we see through the window stops being a blur of horizontal streaks to freeze into shapes backlit by the rain. Next to the bridge where the Yamanote line runs there is a wall of commercial buildings and galleries. On top of everything, a big billboard advertises soup in neon lights. ...

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Chapter 4

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pp. 9-10

Through the café window, we see Misako arrive wearing a white overcoat that covers her legs to mid ankle. The buttons of her coat are gold, as are the trim on her high heeled boots, her nails, and the tones of her makeup. As Misako walks, her long ponytail follows the rhythm of her pace with a pendular movement. ...

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Chapter 5

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pp. 11-12

The subway tracks screech under our seats. Next to me two students stare at their reflections in the train windows. They are in love with their own images, as if the reflections were autonomous and responsible for directing their bodies’ movements outside of the mirror. ...

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Chapter 6

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pp. 13-16

The woman who would succeed Misako is a Caucasian five years and thirteen days younger than I, with light eyes and hair — real, unlike Misako’s. The woman who would succeed Misako is very tall, her skin is rosy, and she has the big round eyes of a horse. ...

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Chapter 7

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pp. 17-20

“There is a very big difference between wanting something and being able to want something,” is what Iulana Romiszowska thinks while she glides through the room balancing a tray with a bottle of Green Label whisky, four glasses, and a small bucket of ice. ...

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Chapter 8

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pp. 21-24

After a big press campaign, the editor of the magazine Literature Today snagged an exclusive interview with the recluse poet Atsuo Okuda, who had not spoken to the international press in thirty-five years, when he published his last collection of poems, winner of the Choku prize. ...

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Chapter 9

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pp. 25-26

Long before it arrives into the sticky hands of Mr. Suguro Shibata, professor of the Association of the Harmonious Fugu of Tsukiji, fugu #572 of lot 09.4509 swims in the frigid waters of the North Pacific. ...

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Chapter 10

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pp. 27-32

Iulana Romiszowska discreetly ignores my advance, excuses herself in English, and returns to behind the bar. Kiyomi, my Fukuoka escort, does not hide her wounded pride and stops attending to me the way she should. When I take the pack of cigarettes out of my jacket pocket, she does not offer a light. ...

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Chapter 11

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pp. 33-34

In the first days of my time in the world, Mr. Atsuo Okuda explained that living beings divide themselves into two complementary genders, the masculine and the feminine, and that all specimens are defined by the way in which they look for themselves in the other. ...

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Chapter 12

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pp. 35-38

After fifteen minutes of waiting in the doorway of the insalubrious Shibuya 109 on a rainy afternoon, Iulana Romiszowska appears with her bodily form covered by a black blouse with white polka dots and a short skirt that makes her look like an alien that has infiltrated us, a KGB spy from Planet East Europe wearing clothes made for the body of a Japanese woman even though her body does not have the timid proportions of the body of a Japanese woman. ...

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Chapter 13

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pp. 39-44

Iulana Romiszowska lies on her side, folds her hands behind her head, and looks at the wall. The rough soles of her long feet, one on top of the other, line up with the bunions in contact. The submarine equipment, already installed in the small apartment by Mr. Suguro Shibata, professor of the Association of the Harmonious Fugu of Tsukiji, ...

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Chapter 14

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pp. 45-50

I attach the partial transcript of phone communication #437, on 12.07.2013, that took place between the editors of Literature Today magazine, and your son, Mr. Shunsuke Okuda, between 19:12 and 19:40. The topic of the call is you, sir, Mr. Atsuo Okuda. We believe that after the publication of the interview last week, ...

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Chapter 15

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pp. 51-54

Last week Mr. Okuda spent a great deal of time in a hotel in the big city, taking care of secret business. ...

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Chapter 16

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pp. 55-58

The men from the office have given up calling me. From the sealed envelopes at the door of the house, I imagine that my absence has already caused me to be fired for just cause. I also imagine the comments in the hallways, the captains of that useless army of crabs saying: “I always thought he was a little strange,” ...

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Chapter 17

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pp. 59-64

What we see now is the first meal we share in a Korean restaurant in Odaiba. Behind the outline of Iulana Romiszowska’s blond, messy hair, the bay shines in tones of blue, sparkling in millions of minuscule mirrors in movement in the thread of water. ...

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Chapter 18

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pp. 65-68

Separated from me, from Iulana Romiszowska, and from the reinforced concrete subway giraffe-station by eight hours and twenty-two minutes on the time line, twelve other stations that leave from Odaiba and 4,543 meters of underway passages, is the Shinjuku Hyatt Regency, a brown marble box with square windows. ...

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Chapter 19

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pp. 69-70

I didn’t take long to discover that Iulana Romiszowska has a child’s nipples but a pussy as big and wide as a cavern, because it had been much used by dozens of gaijin who had been there before me. A Japanese woman, even if she is the oldest whore of Yoshiwara, is a tight glove. ...

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Chapter 20

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pp. 71-76

The couple gains intimacy. We start to treat each other, on even days, as if we were our parents: I was her father, the melomaniac diplomat; she was my mother, timid and dead. ...

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Chapter 21

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pp. 77-78

The night of that same morning, we will walk through the streets of Roppongi after going to the movies. Since Iulana Romiszowska is taller than I am, holding hands is inconvenient when we walk: my hand will always be under Iulana’s thick fingers, which forces me to raise my forearm subtly to reach the woman’s hand. ...

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Chapter 22

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pp. 79-82

Today I got into the shower with plastic gloves and rubber bands on my wrists. And I also used gloves to eat, handle money, phones, and the subway pass, push elevator buttons, type on the computers at home and in the cafés. ...

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Chapter 23

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pp. 83-88

When I’m on one of the corners of Akihabara, Mr. Lobster Okuda shows up asking for Iulana under the spaghetti of neon where fat girls with lace-trimmed skirts, white aprons, bobby socks, and little caps distribute ads for maid cafés to the juvenile perverts who buy and sell electronic scrap on the sidewalks. ...

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Chapter 24

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pp. 89-92

The call that beeps at six in the morning on the cell phone of Mr. Suguro Shibata, professor of the Association of the Harmonious Fugu of Tsukiji, is from an old acquaintance who calls him every Tuesday at the same time. ...

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Chapter 25

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pp. 93-96

I understand very little. For this reason I insist and write these letters: if I don’t get the right answers, at least I want to ask good questions. ...

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Chapter 26

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pp. 97-102

The men in suits with security ear buds at the door of the Regency Hyatt of Shinjuku recognize Kazumi, the most lucrative dancer of the Abracadabar, coveted by the clients, the managers, and by the clients and managers of the other establishments on the street, whose private dance or simple company at the table for thirty minutes would cost hundreds of thousands of yen, ...

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Chapter 27

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pp. 103-104

When the focus of the lens converges to the center of the mat, we see Mr. Suguro, professor of the Association of the Harmonious Fugu of Tsukiji, sitting on a small bench, his erect back at a right angle to the plank of polished wood. His torso is illuminated by the afternoon that traces diagonal patterns on the kimono and the recently painted walls. ...

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Chapter 28

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pp. 105-108

You, Kazumi, leave work and go home, stepping forcefully on the sidewalk. It is night and the noise of your boots on the stone enlarges your presence on the dark street. You always liked occupying a space bigger than yourself and, as a dancer and escort, you know the artifices for doing this. ...

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Chapter 29

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pp. 109-112

A large amount of time went by outside of this apartment since I have locked myself in here. ...

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Chapter 30

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pp. 113-116

At the appointed hour, Iulana and I take the subway under the slanted stares of the crowd — they imagine that Iulana is one of those Russian models who end up as whores in Japan, and I am a salary-man with exotic taste. We enter the sixth car and take a seat, under a little crepe marking on the ceiling. ...

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Chapter 31

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pp. 117-118

The raindrops splatter on the roof and on the carpet of dead flowers on the ground. The crows seek shelter under the arc of the naked cherry trees. At the entrance to the garden, Mr. Lobster Okuda and I observe in silence the outline of the cremated corpse of Iulana Romiszowska, retrieved from the scene of the accident last year by Mr. Suguro Shibata, professor of the Association of the Harmonious Fugu of Tsukiji. ...

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Translator's Afterword

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pp. 119-122

Ilan Stavans has noted that “modernity . . . is not lived through nationality but . . . through translationality.”1 Just as translation is a border-crossing activity, the writing coming from the contemporary new writers of Latin America is transnational in nature, illuminating both the experience of cultural otherness and epistemological otherness derived from their experiences as global travelers and citizens. ...