Mieko Kanai

Mieko Kanai

Born in 1947, Mieko Kanai is a novelist, poet, essayist, and critic. She has published around thirty novels and short-story collections, and her critical essays have been featured in Japanese newspapers and magazines for almost fifty years. In the English-speaking world, she is perhaps best known for her story “Rabbits,” a gory retelling of Alice in Wonderland where a young girl puts on a suit made of freshly skinned rabbit fur.

Mild Vertigo

Fiction by Mieko Kanai

Translated by Polly Barton

With a contribution by Kate Zambreno

Cover design by Janet Hansen

The apparently unremarkable Natsumi lives in a modern Tokyo apartment with her husband and two sons: she does the laundry, goes to the supermarket, visits friends, and gossips with neighbors. Tracing her conversations and interactions with her family and friends as they blend seamlessly into her own infernally buzzing internal monologue, Mild Vertigo explores the dizzying reality of being unable to locate oneself in the endless stream of minutiae that forms a lonely life confined to a middle-class home, where both everything and nothing happens.…
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For me, Mieko Kanai’s writing represents one of the high points of Japanese literature. The tiny details giving shape to the everyday, the daily repetitions, the memories that come suddenly flooding back, other people’s voices—all these described in winding, iridescent prose. Their utter ordinariness, their utter irreplaceability, make for a reading experience brimming with joy from start to finish.
—Hiroko Oyamada
Mieko Kanai is not interested in describing objects; she wants to accentuate their amorphous nature.
—Sofia Samatar, The Paris Review
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