Huddled beneath the volcanoes of the Kirishima mountain range in southern Japan - also called the Fog Island Mountains - the inhabitants of small town Komachi are waiting for the biggest of the summer’s typhoons. South African expatriate Alec Chester has lived in Komachi for nearly 40 years. Alec considers himself an ordinary man, with common troubles and mundane achievements - until his doctor gives him a terminal cancer diagnosis and his wife, Kanae, disappears into the gathering storm. Kanae flees from the terrifying reality of Alec’s diagnosis, even going so far as to tell a childhood friend that she is already a widow. Her willful avoidance of the truth leads her to commit a grave infidelity, and only when Alec is suspected of checking himself out of the hospital to commit a quiet suicide, does Kanae come home to face what it will mean to lose her husband.
Narrated by one of the town's oldest and most peculiar inhabitants, this haunting and beautiful audio reinterpretation of the Japanese kitsune folktale tradition (also available in print, eBook, and unabridged audio CD) is about the dangers of actions taken in grief, and an exploration of storytelling as a form of healing.
Editors Select, November 2014 - "Chris Doheny – one of my closest friends and favorite colleagues – passed away in 2013 due to complications from cystic fibrosis. We spent a lot of our time together talking about books, so I was honored to be a judge – along with Audible's publisher and the authors Ann Hood and Dani Shapiro – for the first literary prize awarded in his name. With its atmospheric storytelling and haunting look at the realities (and different reactions) a terminal illness brings, Fog Island Mountains was our unanimous choice for the prize. I have no doubt that Chris – who counted Haruki Murakami, Kurt Vonnegut, and David Mitchell among his favorite authors – would be proud of this selection." Diana, Audible Editor
"Jennifer Ikeda's quiet, nearly hushed tones add weight to this intimate telling, set in a small Japanese town as a summer typhoon bears down on it. With the cadence of a storyteller or a poet, Ikeda relates the drama of Alec, who's just been given a terminal cancer diagnosis. As Alec, his wife Kanae, their family, and the townspeople, their lives all interconnected, react, the storm rages. Ikeda shifts beautifully between Alec's South African-accented English and other characters' Japanese or Japanese-accented English. As events reach a crescendo, Ikeda's narration reflects the growing urgency. The emotional story, with hints of magic and folklore, will give listeners much to ponder." (AudioFile)
"With a voice as gentle and beguiling as a whisper, actress Jennifer Ikeda unspools the story of Kanae and Alec Chester as a typhoon bears down on their town of Komachi, Japan…It's difficult to imagine a voice better suited to this debut novel by Michelle Bailat-Jones than Ikeda's." (Chicago Tribune)
The novel, which won the 2013 Christopher Doheny Award from the Center for Fiction, is self-contained and energetic, as whimsical as it is sad, as playful as it is serious…Bailat-Jones maintains the present indicative tense throughout the novel, an impressive achievement on its own, which also serves to strengthen the reader’s sense of Azami as the omnipotent storyteller…Fog Island Mountains’ thesis is a brave one: vows, once spoken, can transcend the need for speech. But their power is dreadful—they compel us to return and return again to the sites of our deepest weakness. (Pank)
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A Lyrical Listen
love and weather
- Beth A