The Woman in the Purple Skirt

55449486. sy475

Title: The Woman in the Purple Skirt

Writer: Natsuko Imamura (translated by Lucy North)

Publishing House: Faber & Faber

Date of Publication: June 3rd 2021 (first published June 30th 2019)

Rating: 4 stars

‘’Some people would pretend they hadn’t seen her, and carry on as before. Others would quickly move aside, to give her room to pass. Some would pump their fists and look happy and hopeful. Others would do the opposite and look fearful and downcast. (It’s one of the rules that two sightings in a single day means good luck, while three means bad luck.)’’

A young woman wearing a purple skirt has drawn the attention of an entire neighbourhood. The children in the park treat her as a companion, the residents as a mystery. Why is she there? Why does she wear the same clothes? Where does she work? Our narrator is her faithful watcher. Now, we all hate stalkers, but do not be so quick to judge. Soon, the watcher known as the Woman in the Yellow Cardigan will become a guardian angel as the mysterious young woman is threatened by what initially seemed a promising ‘’new’’ start.

We all know that Japanese Literature can be exciting and absurd. This story may not be as ‘’absurd’’ as others but it is mysterious and cryptic. Apart from the questions raised by the woman’s presence and the watcher’s constant observation, the story is built around the very realistic question of our work’s influence on our lives, the gossip, the vilification, the continuous undermining. The major implication comes when a love affair joins the game and the innocence of our main character causes her to become a gullible prey.

What starts as a quirky tale slowly (but surely) becomes darker and darker when slander and violence kick off, the results of a vile man’s actions and our heroine’s naïveté.

Many thanks to Faber & Faber and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.