18 Aug / Trinity, Trinity, Trinity by Erika Kobayashi, translated by Brian Bergstrom [in Booklist]
Tokyo-based author/artist Erika Kobayashi makes an intriguing, albeit uneven, translated-into-English debut, enabled by Canadian Brian Bergstrom. The consequences of Japan’s 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster are manifest in three generations of an all-female Tokyo family.
Kobayashi’s novel takes place on a single day, following the schedule of a divorced working woman sandwiched between generations. Her mother suffers from what seems to be dementia, but something far more sinister is affecting the country’s elders. Her 13-year-old relies on headphones tuned to a band called DEATH BE NOT PROUD to detach.
As the 2020 Tokyo Olympics approach, the erratic, dangerous behavior of the country’s elderly lead to reports of “the Trinity disease” spreading radioactive damage. The mother disappears from day care and the daughter goes completely incommunicado, instigating a frantic search.
The triplicate title – beyond the radioactive illness – is further explicated halfway as the Christian trinity that “offered … no solace”; the first nuclear bomb detonation site in White Sands, New Mexico; and a cybersex site the woman relies on for intimate connection.
Ironically, rather than illuminate, these reflections amplify superfluous tangents in an already disjointed, disappointing narrative.
Published: 2019 (Japan), 2022 (United States)