Kizuna is a mixed-genre anthology of short-fiction produced with the intent of aiding children orphaned by the earthquake and tsunami that struck on March 2011. To that effect, one must first adjust his-or-her expectations before reading it. Although it is labeled “Fiction for Japan”, the reader will soon find that there is not much to be had ‘of’ or ‘about’ Japan in its pages. Instead, most of the stories are of the science-fiction/horror genre where even the most insistent attempts to draw connections to place or event are disappointed. Some exceptions to this, though they are in the minority, are Shinya Gaku’s “That Long Day”, which surveys an ordinary day gone awry when disaster strikes, and “The Old Man and Honey”, in which Minoru Inaba depicts emotional turmoil in the aftermath of tragedy. Yet, the anthology’s overall effect on its reader remains dissonant when measured against the backdrop to which it is set.
Despite this, one must keep in mind the principle that can bring writing of such diversity together in the first place. ‘Kizuna’, Kanji of the Year for 2011, means ‘bond’ in English, though it must also be noted that its etymology also divulges a more negative connotation: to encumber, to restrict. Nevertheless, both in the context of this anthology and to the people of Japan, its meaning is clear. Kizuna represents the spirit and sentiment that unite people regardless of their differences, seen in the intensity of emotion and effort put toward relief and rebuilding; contributions both big and small. It is this sentiment that editor Brent Millis hopes to extend as he appeals for readers to “create your own bond with the people of Japan”, without connotations or restrictions, just as the authors featured in this anthology have.
Zachary Tan (Nanyang Technological University)