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Territory of Light

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  1,381 ratings  ·  256 reviews
Territory of Light is the luminous story of a young woman, living alone in Tokyo with her three-year-old daughter. Its twelve, stand-alone fragments follow the first year of her separation from her husband. The novel is full of light, sometimes comforting and sometimes dangerous: sunlight streaming through windows, dappled light in the park, distant fireworks, dazzling floodwat ...more
Paperback, 122 pages
Published April 5th 2018 by Penguin Classics (first published 1978)
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Average rating 3.63  · 
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Sep 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Mothering in Japan

Looking down at the stagnant green water, I could picture as in a dream or a film that spot as it had appeared back then, some fifteen years earlier: a spot clad in flowers and fruit trees, where the sunshine seemed to have congealed. It was bright and tranquil, disquietingly so. No one must ever know about this place that made me yearn to dissolve until I became a particle of light myself. The way that light cohered in one place was unearthly. I gazed at its stillness without once ever goJapan
Diane S ☔
Apr 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: lor-2019
A woman in Tokyo is left by her husband, alone she must raise her two year old daughter. There are twelve segments, and each covers a glimpse into their lives. They find an apartment, she still needs to work do her daughter attends daycare. We are privy to her personal thoughts as she draws us into their lives. She loses her temper, she gets depressed, wondering how she can go on, keep doing all she is doing. Her husband shows up at the unlikliest of times, though he is living with another woman ...more
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
A spare meditation on single motherhood, Territory of Light chronicles a year in the life of a woman living in Tokyo as she copes with her recent separation from her husband. The novella begins with the newly single woman and her young daughter moving into a top-floor apartment filled with light and the hope of a bright future, but things quickly dim. The unnamed woman’s daughter grows angry, her husband begins to stalk her, her job becomes too demanding. Told from the perspective of the protagonist ...more
I enjoyed Territory of Light and found it sufficiently absorbing, but now I'm finding that I don't have a whole lot to say about it. It's a simple story about motherhood told from the perspective of a newly single woman coming to terms with the failure of her marriage - it's a quiet, meditative work that was originally published in Japanese in 1979, and while I felt that this story's cultural context was readily apparent as I was reading, it does have an introspective universality in its depiction of ...more
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan, 2019-read
I was fascinated by this quietly told, subtle tale about control and the demand to function. When a young woman is left by her husband, she becomes the only provider for her 2-year-old daughter and has to juggle numerous, often contradictory expectations: She has to hold down her job at a library where she is expected to perform her tasks no matter what happens in her private life, she has to find her own way of being a single mother while defending herself against the ideas others - the employe ...more

3.5 Stars

Originally published in monthly installments in a literary Japanese magazine in the late 1970s, in twelve sections over the course of a year, Yuko Tsushima is considered one of the most noteworthy Japanese writers of her generation. The English translation is by Geraldine Harcourt.

”The apartment had windows on all sides.
“I spent a year there, with my little daughter, on the top floor of an old four-storey office building. We had the wh
A slim novel taking place over the course of a year and narrated by a recently separated mother who is struggling to adjust to solo parenting her adorably naughty three year old daughter. The writing in this caught my attention immediately, it is beautiful especially her descriptions of light. There is something very similar here to the way Robin Robertson writes about the play of light only in this book it is often full of colour. The images of the bright red kitchen floor, the silver painted r ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is a quick translated work from Japan, about a woman who has separated from her husband and is trying to raise her child. A lot of focus is on the buildings where they live - the rooms, the light, the water, the sounds, the neighbors, the space, the tatami.
Inderjit Sanghera
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
'Territory of Light' primarily takes place in a small Tokyo apartment where the narrator's dark descent into mental instability contrasts with the constant flood of light which variably dazzle and disorientate the narrator and her young daughter.  Darkness and lightness eventually combined and coalesce as the narrator, at the height of an epiphany, seeks to dissolve into light, drowning her grief and solitude into the perpetual stream of sunlight;

"No one must ever know about this pla
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

So ähnlich hätte vielleicht Sylvia Plath die Trennung von Ted Hughes in Prosa beschrieben.
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This has been one of my favorite reads this year and can only give thanks to Geraldine Harcourt for such a lovely translation of Tsushima's wonderful novel. The book, originally released in the late 1970's as a twelve chapter serialization, recounts the actions, thoughts,and feelings of a young woman starting an independent life for her and her nearly three year old daughter during the initial year of a separation from her husband. Two things made this novel stand out. The first was Tsushima's o ...more
May 18, 2018 rated it liked it
In Territory of Light, you follow the life of a young woman and her infant daughter, living in Tokyo during the 1970s through a series of fragments. These fragments are taken from the first year after her separation with her husband.

Territory of Light is filled with beautifully crafted descriptions of surroundings. Actually, the entire book is written in a brilliant way. I have come to really admire Yuko Tsushima’s gift for writing. Many of the things that are described in the most detail are v
Mar 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, netgalley
Territory of Light was originally published in the Japanese literary monthly magazine between 1978 and 1979 with each chapter marking the months in real time. It is now being published in English translation in one instalment of multiple chapters. It won the inaugural Noma Literary Prize and Tsushima subsequently won many awards in her career. She died in February 2016.

The novel tells the story of a young woman separating from her husband and setting up a new life in a Tokyo apartmen
This is a quiet, subtle piece of fine literature, but it just wasn't for me. I think this is one of the books you have to be in the right mood, moment or phase of your life in to fully cherish it. In my case, I couldn't really connect with it.

The unnamed narrator and her adorable young daughter start a life on their own after the seperation of their husband respective father. The story is told via twelve vignette-like chapters, which were originally published over the course of a yea
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Territory of Light is a short, intense book about one woman's first year after separating from her husband. It's a subtle book; Tsushima never explicitly tell us that the narrator is lonely, isolated, or depressed, but rather lets the reader witness her mental state as she struggles to raise her daughter without her husband. This story is beautiful and heartbreaking.

The territory of light from the title is the woman's new apartment, which is flooded with light from windows on all sides. H
Susan Kennedy
This story is about a woman who's husband leaves her. She is left to raise her child alone; mostly by her choice. She has chosen to raise her daughter and does not want her husband around. This is the first year of that separation as she tries to tend to herself and her daughter. She goes through ups and downs; mostly downs. There are times when she strikes out at her daughter becoming resentful at times of her. She leaves her home alone often and that was a bit disturbing to me. At other times ...more
Katie Lumsden
Jun 29, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this, though I also found it slightly mistifying. The examination of loneliness and the struggles of parenthood are done really well, but I could have done with a bit more plot movement.
4.5 stars. This began slowly for me. There was little to capture my attention in the first "chapter" (the novella collects 12 linked stories as a whole), which mostly attended to the narrator finding an apartment after a marital separation. But gradually the beauty of her poetic insight started to shine through quite literally as the novel plays with light and shadow and dreams and images as a reflection of the interior soul. As someone who was a single divorced mother for 9 years and started of ...more
This novel is really beautiful. The writing feels unlike any other Japanese novel I've read, and I think at least some of its grace should be attributed to the translation by Geraldine Harcourt. It's impossible for me to know how much of this style came from the original Japanese, but either way, I found it striking and unique in comparison to the other Japanese translations I've read.

I felt a creeping sense of dread throughout the course of the entire novel, while also truly rooting
Kasa Cotugno
Yuko Tsushima was an award winning author in Japan, who following her death in 2016 is experiencing a resurgence of popularity in translation. Territory of Light, written in 1979 when she was in her early 30's, is composed of a series comprising a novel which was published chapter by chapter over the course of a year. Each month she followed her unnamed narrator as she traversed the transition between marriage and single motherhood, forging an identity and living with her (also unnamed) 3-year-o ...more
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 日本
I really enjoyed this one - the story follows a woman living in Tokyo who has recently separated from her husband, and is left to raise her young daughter alone. She lives in a tiny apartment (6 tatami mats in size if that means anything to you) which is full of light, and spends much of her time keeping her cheeky daughter out of trouble. We follow them as they have run-ins with other tenants in the building, as her daughter navigates the wider world and as our protagonist navigates single pare ...more
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I went into this not knowing what to expect but was pleasantly surprised. At just over 200 pages, this is a really quick read that I absolutely flew threw. The novel itself is divided into 12 segments and is written in the first person narrative, following the life of a young single mother who moves into a new home following the separation between her and her husband.
The narrator nor her child is named in
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A quiet and eerie novel which slowly crept up on me and I really liked it. A lot. Full of dreams and water and light, it had this great tone of otherworldliness mixed with the mundane and earthly stuff about motherhood and loneliness. The chapters, because they were written as monthly installments almost felt like connected short stories, which also somehow added to that sense of slight displacement and dreaminess..
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: witmonth, wishlist, asian, 2019
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars

I loved this. A beautiful, dreamlike novella shot through with a strong sense of isolation that permeates the mind.

First published in the late 1970s as a series of interlinked short stories, Territory of Light focuses on a year in the life of a young mother, recently separated from her somewhat ambivalent husband. As the story opens, the unnamed woman – who narrates the novella – and her three-year-old daughter are newly established in a fourth-floor apartment wi
Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)
Apr 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-asia
See more of my book reviews on my blog, Literary Flits

I didn't realise until I came to write this review that Territory Of Light was written in the 1970s. Several aspects of the woman's relationship and deference to her estranged husband annoyed me to the extent I was muttering 'Stand up for yourself!' at my Kindle. However, for a woman to be contemplating divorce and initiating the proceedings herself forty years ago, especially in socially conservative Japan, is a strong statement of her i
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Based on the author’s own experience, this short novel tells of the experiences of a separated mother trying to adjust to life on her own with her 3 year old daughter. It’s an uphill struggle some days and we share in her frustration. The loneliness of life as a single mother is expertly portrayed, as each chapter describes a different episode in their daily life. It’s a slow-paced, often dreamy novel (with far too many actual dream sequences) and not much happens. Although firmly rooted in Japa ...more
Oct 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Territory of Light, which was first published in a serialised form in a magazine between 1978 and 1979, has been variously described as 'spiky, atmospheric and intimate' (Spectator), and 'disturbing and dream-like' (Financial Times).  The novella, which begins in springtime, takes as its focus a young woman, who has been abandoned by her husband, and who has to start a new life in a Tokyo apartment with her young daughter.  Territory of Light charts the protagonist's life over the course of a calendar year, as she struggles to bring up her two-year-ol Territory(Financial(), ...more
Natalie (CuriousReader)
Territory of Light covers one year of a woman's life after she separates from her husband and is trying to raise their two-year old daughter on her own. Told in interconnected stories, we see a mother who is trying and at times failing to keep it together - leaving her daughter with a friend's family to make both child and mother more peaceful; trying to find a new way of living now that's she's on her own and trying to remember how she lived before she married; trying to get by when what she mo ...more
Yon Nyan (BiblioNyan)
Territory of Light by Yūko Tsushima is an #OwnVoices Japanese fiction novel about a woman whose husband leaves her, forcing her to start her life anew with her three-year-old daughter in a small Tokyo apartment, where she confronts a deep sense of identity loss, loneliness, and motherhood.

When I saw that Osamu Dazai’s daughter had a new book out on the shelves, I jumped at the chance to read it! Osamu Dazai is one of my favourite Japanese authors. Similarly to her father, Tsushima write
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This atmospheric novel charts the twelve months in a woman's life after she and her husband split up. Left alone with her two-year-old daughter, she struggles to cope with the demands of her working life and the care of a toddler. The story is told in brief segments, each giving us a snapshot of the woman's life. The prose is evocative: light is a frequent theme: the airy light in the apartment in which she lives, the lights from fireworks, the light falling on water. Summer and winter are both ...more
Victoria Sadler
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's hard to believe, as you read this recent translation, that this book was written way back in the 1970s for its subject matter and its style feels so fresh, visceral and contemporary.

It follows an unamed Japanese woman through the first year of her separation from her partner as she looks to start up a new life with her young toddler. But rather this becomes a descent into depression and frustration as the woman finds herself regressing into alcoholism, dreaming of her carefree life before
Elaine Aldred
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Set in Tokyo, Territory of Light chronicles the life of a young woman who is left by her husband to bring up her two-year-old daughter on her own. The story is told in a no-nonsense style like a journal, reporting the facts of her days fraught with the stress of keeping her child well cared for and socially on track, while trying to earn a living to keep them both.
What emerges from the terse narrative is a real immersion into this unnamed woman’s world and a very accurate portray of what i
Li Sian
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the light imagery in this one. And, you know, the subject matter - how often do you get to read a novel about a newly-divorced woman struggling to raise her daughter amidst the social stigma of single parenting in 1970s Japan? For all her descriptions of the physical and emotional interior, the best part of Tsushima's novel was probably in her descriptions of the kind of societal reactions the protagonist received. It was aggravating, yes, but also frankly fucking surreal when a ...more
Kelly Furniss
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Set in Tokyo this book charts the twelve months in a woman life after her marriage breaks down.
We feel the emotion and pure frustration at her trying to do her best to look after a strong willed toddler whilst holding down a job and dealing with her ex partner who won't financially help out. Exhausted she seeks solace in alcohol and her situation seems to isolate her further.
As a reader I felt kept at arms length and in the dark about many things as we don't know the names of the lady or
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, 2018-favorites
Tsushima's approach to the novel was unique in terms of her use of imagery. The twelve chapters, which originally came out in monthly installments in a Japanese periodical, were often built around a single image mentioned in the title. Hence, "The Water's Edge" was centered around the flooding of the apartment roof. The narrative unfolded with the restraint and grace of the elements – light, water, wind, sand dunes, trees, birds, fire. And with light as the dominant, illuminating image, the poet ...more
Mar 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
A slow-moving account of a young mother, separated from her husband and setting up alone with her two-year-old child. We dip in and out of her life, a few days at a time, over the course of a year as she struggles to come to terms with her situation and see the separation through against everyone’s advice. Some beautifully poetic descriptions of her new surroundings, highly atmospheric with a hint of foreboding. I feared throughout for the child’s welfare, for no reason other than a sense of her ...more
Nicki Markus
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Having previously enjoyed a short story/novella by Tsushima, I was keen to read more, and Territory of Light didn't disappoint. This story does follow a standard timeline, but it does so in the form of a series of vignettes, looking at the life of a woman with a young child as she separates from her husband and branches out alone. Therefore, there is no clear plot or ending outside of that scenario. It's really more of a snapshot. The constant imagery of light is beautifully handled through the ...more
Oct 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
“A room empty but for faint dancing light. If I could have had my choice of where to meet the years with my daughter that stretched ahead, I wanted it to be lying sprawled at ease right in the middle of such a room.”

Yuko Tsushima’s Territory of Light, set in Tokyo, follows a woman adjusting to single motherhood & the intense relationship with her three year old daughter. it’s a simple, beautifully written story & i enjoyed reading it but as i am collecting my thoughts, i don’
This book feels so current I didn't initially realize it was published in 1978. Loved the quiet and sensory mood throughout the story of a mother newly separated from her husband who struggles to settle into a new life.
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1-nets, 2review, japan
When I read Territory of Light it seemed very repetitive and bleak. It takes place in Tokyo and is about woman who is left by her husband to raise alone their young daughter. At first things are going well and quickly it all comes crashing down. The daughter is missing her father and the mother finds her new life complicated and stifling. The parts with the Husband were creepy and frustrating.

Thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for the advance eARC.
An exceptionally brave and beautiful book.
Searingly honest, occasionally painfully so, the story is told by a newly single mother who follows her instincts, is true to herself and her daughter. Dream and memory and the intensity of the moment are juxtaposed. The novella is infused with light, life, and the beauty, sometimes pain, of being alive.
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
[2/5 Stars]

Once again, another book that I didn't particularly love. This seems to be a trend lately.
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asian-literature
The edition I read is the “first American edition” published in 2019. The first Japanese edition was published in 1979. The translator, Geraldine Harcourt, did an excellent job, the book reads beautifully and the prose flows naturally.

So, then, how do I, a non Japanese speaker, know that the translation is true to the book. Well, having been stationed near Fukuoka from 1968-69 and having worked and socialized with a number of Japanese in English conversation classes, most of whom wer
Michelle Arredondo
A rare attempt at Japanese literature....I never know where to my hands on a copy of this book...excited to get right into the story.

Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima, a contemporary Japanese fiction writer, essayist, and critic. I have never read or even heard of this author but the reviews that I did see had me intrigued.

A rich and beautiful tale...a complicated but wonderful read. A story told in fragments...the life of a young woman and her baby. Having separated from her hus
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Yūko Tsushima is the pen name of Satoko Tsushima, a contemporary Japanese fiction writer, essayist and critic. She is the daughter of famed novelist Osamu Dazai, who died when she was one year old. She is considered "one of the most important Japanese writers of her generation" (The New York Times).

She has won many major literary prizes, including the Kawabata for "The Silent Traders,"
“But my daughter, not minding, scampered off towards the pond. I ran after her, out of breath. A weeping willow stood at the point where the side path joined the main one. As it caught the rays of the sinking sun full on, its brightness was dazzling to eyes grown accustomed to the shadows. My daughter was jumping up and down, trying to grab one of the willow’s dangling branches. All right, I would wow her by grabbing a whole bunch. Shading my eyes with one hand, I approached my daughter in the light.” 1 likes
“Why were children the only ones who ever got to melt down?” 1 likes
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