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Of Dogs and Walls

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  478 ratings  ·  60 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 of
Paperback, 53 pages
Published February 22nd 2018 by Penguin Classics
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Average rating 3.64  · 
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Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 recently tran
Aug 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, japan
3.5 stars

This two-story minibook categorized as No. 43 in the Penguin Modern series was mistakenly bought some months ago in March. Taken from its second story [the first being The Watery Realm (1982)], the front cover fonts of the title and the writer incorrigibly deceived me due to its highly-effective design on both to the extent that I, at first sight, couldn't help assuming that they were written by Yukio Mishima. Thus, I found little motive in reading them so I read her first story
Alice Lippart
Beautiful writing but forgettable stories.
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/>The
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
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 als
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
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 fe
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.
Shruti Pandey
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 sh
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.

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
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.
selma ☾
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: anthology
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 reflects bot ...more
Bethwyn (Butterfly Elephant Books)
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 la
'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.
Christy Lau
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-english
Penguin has arguably been the greatest definer and redefiner of classics in recent decades, and I am forever grateful that they continue to push beyond the olde-worlde seams of the Western canon to translate and display in pride of place authors from all over the globe.

Of Dogs and Walls presents two never-before-translated stories, both detailing dysfunctional mother-daughter relationships with an Impressionist hand. Siblings with developmental disabilities – and the consequent discrimination their family members mustglobe.
Vanisha Negi
Mar 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Of Dogs and Walls" By Yuko Tshushima translated by Geraldine Harcourt consists of two short Stories

The Watery Realm
Of Dogs and Walls
I am glad that I discovered a new female author after reading this book.

"The Watery Realm" revolves around the story of a single mother and her three children. The story unfolds her obsession over "Suijin" - The water deity after her husband chose to die by drowning himself in the river and her toxic relationship with the youngest daughter. This
Ryan Goodwin
Mar 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japanese-reading
“The daughter who was once a little sister had believed that memory for a good thirty years.”

This little book, encompassing two short stories from Yuko Tsushima, is the second Penguin Mini I have read recently - and yet another featuring a Japanese writer.

The first story here, ‘Watery Realm’, is very feminine in its writing: It’s not blunt and it’s very symbolic and the narrative transitions (though slightly confusing at the start) grew seamless towards the end. I would say it’s th
Hilario Rajuán

"A Dragon Palace. You're enchanted by a Dragon Palace of your very own. That beautiful realm where a hundred days are a hundred years. A tranquil haven in the deep, suffused with a light unimaginable on land. In the years to come, that light will steadily grow clearer and stronger, the watery realm will grow more beautiful in your eyes, and you will enter that realm.
That's how I hope it will be. Because I love you. And I don't want to think that one day you will die."
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
The first story is rather weak I would say. The prose is nice but the confused narrative, presumably intentional, leaves it with a sense of vacuous dreaminess that fizzles out into nothing.

The second story however, while similarly dreamy, is constructed in a far more effective manner. It is one of those rare works that conveys keenly a faint and sombre tone, but one that evaporates in an instant. The conclusion of this story gripped and rent my heart with no warning, leaving me in fl
Ana ★ Tesserell
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: wasted-time
"People depend on their misfortunes. We curse them, but actually we're wedded to them, proud of them even. And you're no exception."

Now that is an epic quote. Too bad that like most other Japanese tales, this one is more lyrical than epic, written for the author's sake rather than the reader's. Tsushima and Harcourt conceived easy to read text, but the subject doesn't enrich the reader's experience in any way.
Ocean Gebhardt
2.5 stars for the first story (Watery Realm), 3.5 for the second (Of Dogs and Walls).

These were actually nicely written. Also, for being two separate stories (and apparently written almost 4 decades apart) they had very much in common, a single mother, a mentally challenged sibling, etc. The issue is the plots weren't all that interesting. The second story seemed to redeem itself (somewhat) at the end.
Ms E Lacey
Jan 08, 2019 rated it liked it
A small collection of two short stories, both of which are quite strange, from a Japanese writer. There doesn't seem to be a main event in either of these stories. The whole plot seems to be centred around a lengthy description of an abstract concept (like an underwater world or dog-shaped holes) that prompts some pretty harrowing childhood memories. I'm keen to discover more East Asian literature to see if this is a common aspect.
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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,"
“Living right in the heart of Tokyo itself is quite like living in the mountains – in the midst of so many people, one hardly sees anyone.” 4 likes
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