Leaving the Interior

This past weekend I flew up to Tokyo for two literary events.  The first was a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators showcase, at which eight of us presented our recent and forthcoming works for children.  Interestingly, one illustrator, Youchan, had just completed a Japanese book about a deaf child at school.  Another, Naomi Kojima, spoke about translating the letters of a legendary children’s book editor, and my friend Holly and her illustrator did a presentation on the making of The Wakame Gatherers.  (For my interview with Holly, click here.)   I was lucky to meet Yuka Hamano, the illustrator for my own forthcoming picture book, Playing for Papa, which will be published by Topka Books in Spain.

The following evening I was on a panel along with Alfred Birnbaum (Haruki Murakami’s first English translator) and Barry Lancet, Executive Editor of Kodansha International, at the Society of Writers, Editors and Translators New Year Party.  I read a few pages of Losing Kei and talked about the book.

 I had a great time.  Unfortunately, while I was gone, my hubsand and mother-in-law had a big blow out which had nothing to do with me.  My mother-in-law said, however, that it happened because I wasn’t here to act as a buffer.  Also, she had some self-esteem issues because Jio didn’t eat all of the bento she prepared for him.  And my son said he didn’t feel well and stayed home from school yesterday, although he had no fever, did not vomit, and had a healthy appetite.

In Japanese the word for wife means “woman of the interior.”  See, I’m supposed to stay in the house all the time.  Look what happens when I go out! 

This weekend I’m going to Kagoshima.

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4 thoughts on “Leaving the Interior

  1. Which, if you look at a map, is just about as far south away as you can get and still remain in mainland Japan!

    Self-esteem issues re. the bento — ouch!! I am surprised she survived being a parent, the quintessential profession which requires us all to leave our self-esteem at the door if we stand a chance at remaining standing until the last round.

  2. Dear Suzanne,

    I love your stories because they sound SO much like mine. In the last few years I have decided that my m-i-l takes my husband’s blow-ups at her as a sign of affection.

    I’ve stopped letter her get to me, instead of making her acknowledge what I’ve said, I just say what I have to say and leave the room. Hence the one who sticks with her longer must be the one who truly loves her?!

    Your m-i-l gets 1000 brownie points for acknoledging her own weakness and appreciating you as a buffer. yay, for her!

    The only way for them to deal with you being gone is to do it. There is nobody under 21 in my house and they still give me the hair eyeball when I go somewhere. You got to start sometime, and you’re doing a good job of starting now.

    BTW How old are your kids?

  3. My twins are eight. Y’know, I keep thinking that my mother-in-law is suffering from dementia or something, but then I hear about other m-i-l’s, and she sounds totally normal – like a typical Japanese m-i-l!

  4. I love the way your story ends. And this weekend you’re going somewhere else. Good for you! I am interested in that panel with Murakami’s first translator etc.

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