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.
With shades of Clarice Lispector, Elena Ferrante, and Kobo Abe, this verbally acrobatic novel by the esteemed novelist, essayist, and critic Mieko Kanai—whose work enjoys a cult status in Japan—is a disconcerting and radically imaginative portrait of selfhood in late-stage capitalist society.
In the vertigo lurking at the depths of a very ordinary life, Mieko Kanai succeeds in uncovering the tranquility and cruelty that exist side by side.
— Yoko Ogawa, author of The Memory Police
Laden with descriptions of objects and locations, Kanai’s detail-rich sentences offer a specificity of time and place. A subtle, thoughtful portrait of a woman chafing at the demands and constraints of domestic life.
— Kirkus Reviews (Starred)
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.