In Kanazawa, Japan, Emmitt and his wife Mirai clash over how to pursue their future together until a 30-year-old mystery reveals a way forward.
In Kanazawa, the first literary novel in English to be set in this storied Japanese city, Emmitt’s future plans collapse when his wife, Mirai, suddenly backs out of negotiations to purchase their dream home. Disappointed, he’s surprised to discover Mirai’s subtle pursuit of a life and career in Tokyo, a city he dislikes.
Harmony is further disrupted when Emmitt’s search for a more meaningful life in Japan leads him to quit an unsatisfying job at a local university. In the fallout, he finds himself helping his mother-in-law translate Kanazawa’s most famous author, Izumi Kyoka, into English.
While continually resisting Mirai’s efforts to move to Tokyo, Emmitt becomes drawn into the mysterious death thirty years prior of a mutual friend of Mirai’s parents. It is only when he and his father-in-law climb the mountain where the man died that he learns the somber truth, and in turn discovers what the future holds for him and his wife.
Packed with subtle literary allusion and closely observed nuance, with an intimacy of emotion inexorably tied both to the cityscape and Japan’s mountainous terrain, Kanazawa reflects the mood of Japanese fiction in a fresh, modern incarnation.
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"Kanazawa is both a sensitive portrayal of the struggles of an international marriage and a paean to the city in which it is set."
"David Joiner delivers a slow-burning family drama reminiscent of a film by Yasujirō Ozu or Hirokazu Koreeda."
"With its deliberate, expressive descriptions of the city and the mountains that surround it, Kanazawa is a character driven novel that illustrates the importance of communication and compromise."
"Reflective and atmospheric, Kanazawa is a story for sitting with. The drama and conflict are experienced not as grand explosions of intense emotion but as a quiet gnawing from within that is far less easy to escape. Joiner’s patient attention to the interiority of his characters and a strong sense of place create a moving portrayal of the messiness of relationships and the ways that all the things we hope to bury in the past stay with us."
"Filled with lush greenery, formidable mountains, historic castles, and a vibrant local community... Kanazawa casts a shimmering layer of magical novelty around the countryside that has too long been reserved for prominent cities ever since Japan’s industrialization in the early 20th century."
"Kanazawa is a nicely local-colored novel, the whole range of tensions of modern Japan, from busy, bustling and crowded Tokyo to the more relaxed Kanazawa to the village of Shiramine, presented."
"A graceful novel of a graceful city. David Joiner’s Kanazawa interweaves four love affairs, echoing the fantastical writings of the early 20th century writer Izumi Kyoka. At the story’s heart lies the enigmatic bond between Emmitt’s wife’s parents, with a secret only revealed in the novel’s dramatic climax. The other three love affairs, with their own enigmas, are Emmitt’s own - for his wife Mirai, for his adoptive city of Kanazawa, and for his muse Kyoka."
—Alex Kerr, author of Lost Japan and Finding the Heart Sutra
"Atmospheric... and shibui. A quietly captivating tale of life and art in Kanazawa. Slowly sinks its hooks in and doesn't let go."
—Robert Whiting, author Tokyo Junkie
"The grand old city of Kanazawa, its lush historic environs and rich cultural legacy form the setting of this compelling narrative. Kanazawa weaves an intriguing story of a Japanese family worthy of the best of Japanese literature.”
—Roger Pulvers, author of Liv
"In Kanazawa, David Joiner has written a book not unlike its titular city, with great historical depths hidden beneath a deceptively tranquil surface. A story of misunderstandings, miscommunications and family secrets centred around a marriage that seems doomed to fall apart under the weight of unspoken resentments. Above all, Kanazawa drips with a sense of place, the setting much more than just a back drop to the action; Joiner shows that there are plenty of stories taking place outside the vortex of Tokyo. Tense, moving, and subtly gripping, Kanazawa is a welcome addition to the books-about-Japan shelf.
—Iain Maloney, author of The Only Gaijin in the Village
About the Author(s)
David Joiner's writing has appeared in literary journals and elsewhere, including Echoes: Writers in Kyoto 2017, The Brooklyn Rail, Phoebe Journal, The Ontario Review, and The Madison Review. His first novel, Lotusland, set in contemporary Vietnam, was published in 2015 by Guernica Editions.