Yamihiko by Atoda Takashi. Japan PEN Club and Shinchosha, 2010.
A writer’s search for his genetic roots as a storyteller intertwines with a tale of lost love, leading the reader on parallel journeys into Japanese and Western mythology. “I think I must have some distant connection to Yamihiko,” begins the narrator, modeled in several key respects on the author. “Lately I've even begun to feel Yamihiko is in my blood.” Through events in his early childhood, the narrator comes to associate the mysterious name Yamihiko not only with the dead but with people who have a special gift for storytelling, and the briskly driven narrative unfolds in essence as a process of discovering the connection between the two. Along the way he also explores the nature, function, and universal appeal of stories. The translation was issued together with Hisashi Inoue's "The Water Letters" (tr. Roger Pulvers) as a commemorative publication of the 2010 International PEN Congress in Tokyo (red and white cover), and also as a separate bilingual boxed set (black and white).