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Fog Island Mountains

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  171 ratings  ·  45 reviews
What if you could rewrite a tragedy? What if you could give grace to someone s greatest mistake? Huddled beneath the volcanoes of the Kirishima mountain range in southern Japan, also called the Fog Island Mountains, the inhabitants of small town Komachi are waiting for the biggest of the summer's typhoons. South African expatriate Alec Chester has lived in Komachi for near ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published November 4th 2014 by Tantor Publishing (first published January 1st 2014)
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3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  171 ratings  ·  45 reviews

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Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What if you could rewrite a tragedy? What if you could give grace to someone’s greatest mistake?

A powerful and affecting story of a couple dealing with terminal illness as a typhoon strikes a hamlet in southern Japan.

Every so often you encounter a story that profoundly touches you, leaving you speechless and breathless, for me Fog Island Mountains affected me greatly.

This incredible story is forceful and profound, definitely staying with you for quite some time leaving you lost in thought while
SoWrongItsRANDI {Bell, Book & Candle}
Bell, Book & Candle | Fog Island Mountains Review

I'm going to jump right in and say that about halfway through, I threw the book at the wall. To say that I was pissed is the understatement of the century. Infuriated or incensed is more like it. The state of events irked me to no end, and the characters made me want to ring their necks!

"...Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end, every's story's end contains the beginnings of another..." - Azami

I did find the story intriguing with e
Sara Strand
Jan 16, 2015 rated it liked it
If there was maybe an award for book with the least like-able character, this one would certainly be in the running. The book is set in Japan, kind of in the middle of some mountains and they have a huge typhoon heading their way so people are in various stages of storm preparedness. But it starts out with Alec, who is in a consultation room at a hospital, about to get some of the worst news anyone would get- he has terminal cancer. He was waiting for his wife, Kanae, to be at the consultation a ...more
Nancy Freund
Nov 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Some books, like the very best visual art, deliver something new and compelling every time you read them (or look at the painting or sculpture), and Fog Island Mountains is one of these. I have now read it fast, mirroring the storm at its center, and again slowly for the poetry of its language... and I am eager to listen to the audio, having found a sample on the Center for Fiction's website. This novel is a beautiful sensory experience that brings the full force of a Japanese typhoon to bear on ...more
Peter Tieryas
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Finally read this, really moving. Doing an interview with Michelle for Entropy soon.
Rebecca H.
Aug 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This novel tells the tale of a couple in a small town in Japan and their attempts to deal with terrifying news: that Alec, the husband, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Alec’s wife, Kanae, responds by running away — fleeing from the situation in ways both literal and metaphorical. How can one deal with the news that one’s husband will certainly die very soon? Mirroring Alec and Kanae’s emotional turbulence is the arrival of a typhoon that shakes their town and disrupts their attempts to ...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Dec 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, fiction, audiobook
"Fog Island Mountains" takes place in a small island village in Japan. The story focuses on the residents of this village and their dealings with each other as well as the world changing around them. The story is told by Azami, the descendent of a storyteller who seems to be very different from many others in the village. This story is very atmospheric and in some places, almost like dreamlike, although the subject matter is very heavy. This is a book that I know that I am going to be thinking a ...more
Becky Yamarik
Aug 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A phenomenal book about Japan, about families, about death and dying. It was very poetic and beautifully written. I'm a hospice physician and I can say that she really "gets it" about how people really are when they are facing their death or their loved ones' deaths. . . it was very realistic to me. I'd force this into the hands of anyone interested beautiful writing, Japan, family relationships, and/or end of life issues. . .
Susan Tiberghien
Feb 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fog Island Mountains is mesmerizing. Beautifully written, never overstated, an amazing love story, also a story of friendship, of family, of a story teller and wild animals, of a storm, and a small isolated Japanese village. Michelle Bailat-Jones took me there. And she opened a path "to become the person it finally feels comfortable to become."

Nov 02, 2014 rated it did not like it
Usually, quiet books are a pleasant change from the dystopias and murder mysteries, but this was too quiet. Perhaps it was the constantly changing points-of-view? Whatever, this was a DNF.

ARC provided by publisher.
Michelle Bailat-Jones
Jun 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I wrote it - I sure did read it : )
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was so exceedingly beautiful, that as much as I despised one of the central characters I was entranced the whole time.
Angela Young
Sep 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is a poem: it's distilled like a poem and you have to - or I had to - stop and think about what I'd just read from time to time - just as I do when I'm reading a poem. And, just like a poem, it resonates long after it's finished. It is a beautiful, beautifully-written prose-poem and even though I've never been to a Japanese island, this novel took me to one and showed it to me.

There are written Japanese characters between the sections and at first I worried that I wouldn't know what th
Roger Brunyate
May 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Typhoon Trio

I call this short novel a trio not merely because it interweaves the stories of three separate characters, but because its entire concept is poetic; it has the quality of music. Set in and around a small community nestled amid mountains on one of the southern island of Japan, it takes place before and during a typhoon; the chapters have weather-related headings such as "Tropical Depression," "Organized Convection," and "The Eye."

But the typhoon is only the background. The main subjec
May 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed listening to this book. It is set in modern Japan, has an interesting narrative structure that uses the first person plural (Let's see what happens next...) and second person (Watch what she does now). It's not really clear who the narrator is all the time, and varies between an omniscient observer and an old woman.

Although it has a storytelling feel, the emphasis is on character development, focused mainly on a man who receives a devastating medical diagnosis and his wife, and how the
Nov 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written book about a dying man in Japan. It perfectly captures how each person copes differently in the face of loss, how the preexisting dynamics of a couple, family and community are magnified by a serious life event. This book is touching and poetic, and while the topic certainly has its sadness to it, is a very comfortable, beautiful read, with the main events set parallel to a major storm hitting the island. To me, it is a book about relationships much more than it is ...more
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book is the winner of the Christopher Doheny award, which from the website: "recognizes excellence in fiction or nonfiction on the topic of serious physical illness by a writer who has personally dealt or is dealing with life-threatening illness..." which is as good a description of the book as any. It's a very artsy book where the beauty of the book is in the writing. I didn't like it, which doesn't mean this isn't a good book, it just meant that I wasn't in the mood for it. It's slow pace ...more
Dec 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Loved this. I read a lot and find many novels so predictable. This one was certainly not. It's an interesting spin on death and dying and the many ways grief presents itself. Set in Japan, there are many elements of Japanese stoicism that are so foreign to this western reader. The stoicism made me hardened against Kanae, yet I grew to understand. The backdrop of the typhoon elevated the drama and the ending was satisfying. Highly recommend.
Edna Axelrod
Jun 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I actually listened to the Audible recording of this book, and felt transported into the world created by Bailat-Jones. The lyrical writing is just right for a book that depicts a unique locale and characters who are dealing with some of life's most difficult challenges. The book is so good that even though I listened to the whole thing, I want to revisit it by reading it in print. Highly recommended.
Jan 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite some of the detestable and unforgivable behavior on the part of one of the characters, this is beautifully and carefully written. I love its phrasing and choice of characterization. The book is both a character study of the people, but also of the town itself. It's especially good to save this for a foggy, rainy day.

Since I listened to the audiobook, I was annoyed by mispronunciations of some of the Japanese by the narrator, but that's not the fault of the author.
Feb 15, 2016 rated it liked it
The heartbreaking tale of a family facing the terminal illness of their husband and father and their personal reactions to grief. At first I found it hard to connect with Kanae (the ill man's wife) because of her rash actions and unfaithful response to his diagnoses. But the more I thought about her specific role in this story, the more I sympathized with her. Japanese folk stories are interwoven through this beautiful narrative.
Nov 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm sure I will not find adequate words to describe this beautiful story which I listened to during my commute. A contemporary setting, but a tale told with such poeticism and performed by the perfect narrator, that I wondered if I would have enjoyed it as much had a I actually read it. I highly recommend this if you're looking for a change of pace, and especially if you're looking for a new audiobook.
Bryan Cebulski
Really, really bad. Reads like if Nora Roberts wrote the Sound of Waves. Paper-thin characters, simplistic plot and haphazard narrative structure poorly defended by claims of being a poem in prose, but lacking the lyricism or profundity to back that up. Mostly just an exercise in Pulitzer-baity overindulgent descriptions. Not sure where a Scandinavian woman gets the authority to write about the residents of a remote Japanese village either.
Theresa Pollara
Nov 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this book for free in a contest.

That said, I would have bought a copy.

I didn't completely understand or like the main characters. But they were very realistic and well written. The book reads almost more like poetry than prose due to the descriptions and flow. The end result is a dark, haunting novel.

It was very enjoyable. I am looking forward to this author's next book.
Apr 20, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An American immigrant to Japan discovers that he has terminal cancer and his Japanese wife can’t deal with the diagnosis and flees out into typhoon-like conditions on a small island in Japan. Their adult children are left with searching for both of them while the storm rages outside and in all of their hearts. The writing is beautiful, but the story was spotty for me. I'd give it a 3.5.
Aug 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a lyrical, mysterious book melding fable and current-day story as a man and his family deal with his sudden terminal diagnosis. Set in Japan, the island setting and Japanese culture become an integral part of the whole. Readers who enjoyed Eowyn Ivey's Snow Child should definitely check this out.
Mar 02, 2016 rated it liked it
I think I might of enjoyed this better had I not been fasting when I was reading it and could focus better on the narrative. I'm giving the writer the benefit of the doubt and say my lack of focus was on me rather than the writing. I was intrigued by the cross-cultural relationships in the book.
Helen McClory
Wonderfully assured, quiet, insightful novel of lives in a storm hitting a Japanese island. The story rises above the trappings of a marriage narrative through hints of folklore, subtly-rendered depictions of Japanese small town life, and all in beautifully flowing sentences.
Mar 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Read via audio. Interesting, poetically written, story that I think was about true love and how people handle the stress of bad news differently. I feel like I would have followed it a bit better if I'd actually been reading the book.
Dec 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Engrossing literary novel with beautiful writing and a moving story of fear, love, and reconciliation.

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Michelle Bailat-Jones is a writer and translator. Her début novel Fog Island Mountains (Tantor 2014) won the 2013 Christopher Doheny Award from the Center for Fiction and Audible. She has also translated Charles Ferdinand Ramuz’s 1927 Swiss classic Beauty on Earth (Onesuch Press, 2013). She is the Reviews Editor at the web journal Necessary Fiction, and her fiction, poetry, translations, and criti ...more