Winner of Japan’s top literary prizes (the Akutagawa, the Tanizaki, the Noma, and the Yomiuri), Taeko Kono writes with a strange beauty: her tales are pinpricked with disquieting scenes, her characters all teetering on self-dissolution, especially in the context of their intimate relationships. In the title story, the protagonist loathes young girls but compulsively buys expensive clothes for little boys so that she can watch them dress and undress. Taeko Kono’s detached gaze at this alarming behavior transfixes the reader: What are we hunting for? And why? Multiplying perspectives and refracting light from the facing mirrors of fantasy and reality, pain and pleasure, Toddler-Hunting and Other Stories presents a major Japanese writer at her very best.
Taeko Kono is a well known contemporary Japanese writer and critic.
Tranquil and matter of fact.
—Hiromi Kawakami, The New York Times
Two currents are constantly crossing in the stories, the first depicting the polite forms of public interactions and the second pulsing with taboo fantasies and hallucinations. There are resonances here with Tanizaki, but Kono’s subversions feel somehow scarier, in part because of her deadpan prose and in part because she strikes at sacred paradigms of motherhood and femininity.
—The Wall Street Journal
The fiery, beguiling stories in Toddler Hunting and Other Stories are vertiginous tightrope walks between two planes of reality. Kōno’s writing is shocking, ominous, and subversive; it lays bare the destruction and the renewal that freedom and desire can cause.
—The Paris Review Daily
A completely individual writer, who described the intricacies of sexual relationships boldly, committedly, utterly fearlessly. And yet her writing is writing that doesn’t actually ‘bare all,’ but rather hints at what lies underneath—at things deep, quiet, and mysterious.
Both the sadism and masochism here is very raw—but pain and pleasure mingle in ways that never cease to be surprising or poetic.
I was not prepared for this unsettling and unforgettable collection. These stories left me shaken and in awe; they are incendiary, beautiful, and frightening confrontations of the lives we keep hidden from others. Taeko Kono fearlessly writes into the abyss, and there is no one like her.
—Gabe Habash, author of Stephen Florida
Japanese master of the unsettling: Kono should be an electrifying discovery for English-speaking lovers of short fiction. Each story unburies something that feels both thrillingly specific and surprisingly contemporary.
—Kirkus (starred review)
Provocative and eerily moving in their confrontation of the terrifying and the taboo. Each of Kono’s stories features characters confronting new ways to live with their own secret selves: a strikingly original and surprising collection.
—Publishers Weekly (starred)
Kono’s intimate descriptions of unhappy relationships are not only unexpectedly frank, but often genuinely shocking.
—The Boston Review
Kono’s unsparing gaze penetrates the depths of human nature, and she sets forth what she finds there with absolute precision.
Reminiscent of Flannery O’Connor’s works, Kono’s stories explore the dark, terrifying side of human nature that manifests itself in antisocial behavior.