book review: Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima



translated by Geraldine Harcourt
Farrar, Strous, and Giroux, February 12, 2019


I enjoyed Territory of Light and found it sufficiently absorbing, but now I’m finding that I don’t have a whole lot to say about it. It’s a simple story about motherhood told from the perspective of a newly single woman coming to terms with the failure of her marriage – it’s a quiet, meditative work that was originally published in Japanese in 1979, and while I felt that this story’s cultural context was readily apparent as I was reading, it does have an introspective universality in its depiction of isolation that I think will resonate with a lot of modern, non-Japanese readers.

I will say, one thing about the fragmented narration started to grate on me – though this takes place over the course of a year and we are theoretically seeing events unfold in real time, the narrator would often say something like ‘just two weeks ago, I got a call from my daughter’s daycare,’ and then we would rewind two weeks and she would tell us the daycare story… even though we were technically with the narrator at the time those events happened? It fractures the chronology in a way that doesn’t totally make sense to me and adds an unnecessary level of telling rather than showing.

But still, I thought this was a good introduction to Yuko Tsushima, and I’ll definitely look into reading more from her.

Thank you to Netgalley and FSG for the advanced copy provided in exchange for an honest review.


8 thoughts on “book review: Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima

  1. I received an e-ARC of this a few weeks ago and have been meaning to finish it. The prose is spare, but the narration’s felt off to me as well. Nice review!

    Liked by 1 person

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