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Of Dogs and Walls

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  688 ratings  ·  89 reviews
'Though their house was new, the wall had been there a long time.'

In these two stories, which have never before been translated into English, Tsushima shows how memories, dreams and fleeting images describe the borders of our lives.

Penguin Modern: fifty new books celebrating the pioneering spirit of the iconic Penguin Modern Classics series, with each one offering a concen
Paperback, 53 pages
Published February 22nd 2018 by Penguin Classics
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Average rating 3.61  · 
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What a halcyon glow our childhood must have for you. Your children. You were surrounded by their bubbly laughter, their round cheeks shining with health. Their sweet fragrance enveloped you. Everything in sight glittered a dazzling gold. When spring breezes blew, the light streamed through the air. It was a place of such beauty. Such happiness.

This little book in the Penguin Modern series consists of two interlocking stories by the Japanese novelist Yuko Tsushima (1947-2016) which have been rec
Sep 07, 2020 added it
Recommended to Jan-Maat by: Ilse
I made the mistake of keeping this book in a coat pocket and reading it while waiting in queues.
This was a grave mistake because the queues were never long enough, and because I didn't mark the page that I reached I think I ended up reading about six pages five times and the rest of the brochure once after I began to dog ear the page I was on when I reached the head of the queue. such gross act of book vandalism enabled me to finally complete this entire booklet which consists of two short stori
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, japan
Second Review:

You may ask, so what are they about?
This synopsis informs us concisely: "Two luminous, tender stories from one of Japan's greatest twentieth-century writers, showing how childhood memories, dreams and fleeting encounters shape our lives." (back cover) Additionally, their first-time English translations (p. ii) could be regarded like a literary milestone to the world since they would definitely allow wider non-Japanese readers to enjoy reading English texts before, for some, decidin
You're afraid of the water that stole your husband, but all you can do is consort with it. It's always around you. As far as you're concerned, he didn't die, he turned to water. What happens on land vanishes in water, and the reverse is true, too.

This collection includes two short stories:

The watery realm: 4 stars. I loved Tsushima's slow-paced, delicate prose, starkly juxtaposed with some harrowing reminiscences of her childhood - the kind that usually see the light after being evoked by the mo
Alice Lippart
Beautiful writing but forgettable stories.
May 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-stories
2.5 stars
I loved Yuko Tsushima’s Territory of Light but these stories felt disjointed and more like autobiographical wanderings. There is still some beautiful writing and Tsushima’s theme of a single mother and her children and their imaginative worlds can pull at the heart but they just weren’t successful as short stories for this reader.
Sep 12, 2018 rated it liked it
I must admit that I find Japanese fiction a little hit or miss.  A lot of the stories which I have read have been a little too obscure for my taste, and even sometimes when I have enjoyed a particular plot, I find the writing, or the translation of it, rather too simplistic.  Regardless, I came to the forty-third Penguin Modern with an open mind.  These are described as 'luminous, tender stories from one of Japan's greatest twentieth-century writers, showing how childhood memories, dreams and fl ...more
Bethany Saunders
Jul 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wow. Lovely, moving and deeply affecting little stories infused with a sweet, childish curiosity and melancholy. These are wonderful examinations into the way families and young people process grief, big change and memory.
Dana ⚢
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
The first story The Watery Realm is an imaginative invocation of the impact of death of the writer on his window and three children. Another strong theme is the difficult mother-daughter relationship and how the two parties’ views differ greatly from each other. While the mother recalls a blissful and peaceful life, the daughter shows the reader something completely different than harmony. Despair, rage, and beatings, which she apparently had to undergo by her mother. Water as the symbol reflect ...more
Helen Marquis
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Told from the point of view of a mother, whose unfaithful husband drowned after abandoning her and their young son, the first of two short stories in this short read, is themed around water - the spirits that inhabit the water and torment her, the water in her son's fish tank, the water that leaks into their home, the water that pours from her eyes as her heart breaks... The prose is beautifully measured, languid and dreamy. The story woven with ebbs and flows of myths.
The second story also feat
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
This Penguin modern classic has two short stories from late author Yuko Tsushima. Both stories deal with family dynamics and dwell into dysfunctional relations and explores cross generational theme.
First story, The Watery Realm,is a complicated read which explores bond between mother and her children. It moves between the past and the present. It starts with a child who is saving to buy a castle for his fish tank. Multiple metaphors and elements of water are included in this story like fear of
Nicki Markus
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read these two shorts in one sitting and found them delightful. I loved the way Tsushima's tales flowed between generations, especially in "The Watery Realm", where that movement mirrored the water imagery. In some ways, these are more a series of vignettes than stories with a beginning, middle, and end, but that lent them a dream-like quality that worked well. Of Dogs and Walls is a wonderful read for anyone looking for an evening's entertainment and, indeed, is of worth to budding authors lo ...more
Oct 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
i stumbled upon this book at a used bookstore and bought it on a whim but i am SO glad i did. it consists of two short stories, 'the watery realm' and 'of dogs and wall's and both i really, really loved.
the author explored the topic of life after the death of a loved one in such a melancholically beautiful way that i think i have never experienced before. it follows a widow's and her daughter's perspectives after the death of their husband and father. now, the mother who's now afraid of the wat
Venero Armanno
Feb 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Both stories are slow and meditative, though not without interest and some quite beautiful images - especially in the first, revolving around water. The downside is that the stories seem to meander more than develop, but the writing is engaging even if, eventually, there isn't a great deal of resonance by either story's end. Personally, I found the stories of most interest because of their focus on a country and society outside my own,
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first I've read of Yūko Tsushima and I really liked her narrative style of interleaving the past, present, dreams, and memories.

My favourite story of the two is 'The Watery Realm' - the story has a very ominous mood which I really liked.
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the first of the two stories more - The Watery Realm. It’s themes were explored in a way that I could not only relate to but appreciate.
The second story is a tad more bizarre but still good.
Both are short reads but they’re fully formed stories that stay with you.
The Minireads
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Of dogs and walls” by Yuko Tsushima has two short stories which have never been translated into English before. It comes under the fifty new books published last year, for celebrating the pioneering spirit of iconic Penguin Modern Classics series. Coming from varied backgrounds, each book offers its own contemporary flavour. In this book, Yuko Tsushima shows how fleeting memories and dreams shape our lives.

“Of dogs and walls” was translated by Geraldine Harcourt. The book has two short stories
John Naylor
Sep 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Two short stories from an author I had not read anything from before.

Both have a childlike quality in parts as well as an overwhelming sadness too. They evoked in my mind a feeling of loss and isolation even when the characters did have people around them. Both used creatures other than humans to convey very human traits and reactions.

Translated works sometimes lose a lot in translation but I don't feel that these stories did. They remain powerful when translated into English. You could make th
Dane Cobain
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was some decent enough Japanese fiction, but it just wasn’t particularly memorable. It didn’t stand out against the 42 other Penguin Mini Moderns I’ve read so far. I doubt I’ll investigate Tshushima’s work any further.

Natascha Eschweiler
Dec 02, 2019 rated it liked it
"People depend on their misfortunes. We curse them, but actually we're wedded to them, proud of them even."

Would've given "The Watery Realm" 4 stars, but the second short story didn't convince me as much.
May 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Two short tales, distinctly Japanese. One carrying on a theme of water from various perspectives in one family. The other loosely relating to dogs.
Verity W
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
I don’t think I’m cut out for Japanese short stories. These aren’t my cup of tea but I can see that they’re clever and well written (and well translated)
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Inventive and evocative
Deeply personal yet universal
Aquila Michiryu
Sep 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is my first time reading Yuko Tsushima’s work and I must say it impressed me.

This very thin book (only a mere 53 pages) consists of two short stories, titled “The Watery Realm” and the titular “Of Dogs and Walls”.

In The Watery Realm, a mother gives an aquarium castle to her son, which followed with a revelation of her relationship with water and her own mother. This story also features the writer’s own history of being the daughter of Osaka Dazai, author of “No Longer Human”, who commuted s
Yolanda Sfetsos
Feb 01, 2019 rated it did not like it
Thought I'd give this a go. I mean, it's supposed to be a modern classic and contains two short stories I thought I might enjoy.

Well. I didn't.

Both The Watery Realm and Of Dogs and Walls are slow, tedious tales that are so boring I ended up skimming large portions. Or reading pages before realising I didn't know what I read because my mind had wandered.

Yeah. Not a fan.
Bethwyn Badger
An interesting exploration of grief, memory, and family. The time jumps were a little difficult to understand occasionally, but the narrative was really interesting when it was all put together. There's some magical realism and Japanese folklore tales mixed up in here, too, and the resulting story is intriguing, but I wouldn't call it engrossing. Overall, a lovely little book, but a bit too disjointed for me.
Tahlia Riley
Oct 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
This was so unexpected. The first of the two short stories is called The Watery Realm. It glides through generations of women in this Japanese family who’s lives seemingly resolve around the water deity Suijin. The second Of Dogs and Walls is about a girl once a sister and I guess the theme of dogs and walls recurring in her life.
Both stories boil down to faltering family dynamics and troubled narrators. The families in both stories were quite similar.
The mother no one understands, and will ne
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Yuko Tsushima is now in my list of favorite authors from Japan.

I feel that her voice sets her apart from other, especially female, Japanese authors that I've read thus far. Sure, she delved into the same nuances as the more contemporary counterparts - nihilism, sadness, helplessness, conflicted familial relationships - but I feel that her language has more weight.

Maybe it's a zetgeist thing, the nihilism cycle today is complete, thus contemporary works are written in a language that feels more d
'Of Dogs and Walls' is a collection of two short stories, 'The Watery Realm' and its eponymous title. In both stories, Tsushima suspends the reader in a dream-like reality where nostalgia and fantasy collide.

As much as I want to dislike this collection, Tsushima's pure, sweet voice is charming. Her excellent use of patchwork vignettes unfolding the story from multiple characters from different times makes the pieces far more engaging and interesting than what they might have been in a straightf
Michelle Graham
May 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Two short interlocking stories about death...wrapped up in a woman's voice. Excellent.
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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," one of the

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