Woman on the Other Shore by Mitsuyo Kakuta
A Novel

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This compelling novel, widely acclaimed for its perceptive portrayal of the everyday lives and struggles of Japanese women, struck a deep chord with readers throughout Japan. In 2005 it won the prestigious Naoki Prize, awarded semiannually for the best work of popular fiction by an established writer.

Sayoko, a thirty-five-year-old homemaker with a three-year-old child, begins working for Aoi, a free-spirited, single career woman her own age who runs a travel agency-housekeeping business. Timid and unable to connect with other mothers in her neighborhood, Sayoko finds herself drawn to Aoi's independent lifestyle and easygoing personality. The two hit it off from the start, beginning a friendship that is for Sayoko also a reaffirmation of what living is about.

Aoi, meanwhile, has not always been the self-confident person she appears to be. Severe classroom bullying in junior high had forced her to change schools, uprooting her and her family to the countryside; and at her new school, she was so afraid of again becoming the object of her classmates' cruelties that she spent most of her time steering clear of those around her.

The present-day friendship between Sayoko and Aoi on the one hand, and Aoi's painful high school past on the other, form a gripping two-tier narrative that converges in the final chapter. The book touches on a broad range of issues of concern to women today, from marriage and childrearing to being single and working for oneself. It is a universal story about both the fear and the joy of opening up to others.

About Mitsuyo Kakuta

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Mitsuyo Kakuta was born in Yokohama in 1967. She began her writing career while still a student at Waseda University. She is the author of over a dozen books and the recipient of several literary awards, including Japan's most prestigious for popular fiction, the Naoki Prize, which she won for Woman on the Other Shore. This is her first work to appear in English.
Published June 22, 2007 by Kodansha USA. 272 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Woman on the Other Shore

BC Books

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While the story moves forward with the friendship of Sayoko and Aoi, it also looks back at the teenage friendship that shaped Aoi.

Jun 24 2007 | Read Full Review of Woman on the Other Shore: A N...

BC Books

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Sayoko is stuck in this mold and keeps asking herself ‘When am I ever going to stop being the same old me?’ When Sayoko finally decides to make a change, she faces the disapproval of her husband and mother-in-law, not to mention her daughter’s unhappiness.

Jun 24 2007 | Read Full Review of Woman on the Other Shore: A N...

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