The Heron Catchers
A 2023 American Writing Awards Finalist
Joiner's second novel set in the fabled Kanazawa area is an intimate yet understated look at an American who seeks recovery after his marriage to a Japanese woman has failed.
After Nozomi abandons Sedge and their marriage, taking all their money and leaving him with a ceramics shop he can’t manage alone, her brother and his wife offer him a lifeline at their Japanese hot spring inn until he can get back on his feet. As he proceeds forward from this devastation in his life, he becomes involved with the wife of the man Nozomi ran off with as well as her stepson, a troubled 16-year-old whose jealousy and potential for violence contrasts with his interest in birds, origami, and the haiku of Matsuo Basho. What unfolds in the shadow of “the immortal mountain of cranes” will change their lives forever.
Set in Kanazawa and Yamanaka Onsen near the Sea of Japan, The Heron Catchers explores the importance of recognizing suffering both in others and in oneself, of being compassionate, and of trusting those who offer love in the shattering wake of loss.
The Heron Catchers is the second in a series of novels set in and around the Japanese city of Kanazawa.
8.5 x 5.5"
# OF PAGES
"A couple navigates their doomed marriage while living in Yamanaka Onsen, a beautiful yet claustrophobic town where gossip is rife and private lives are public knowledge."
"A multi-sided geometry of love and pain set in rural Ishikawa."
"The Heron Catchers, is at once a novel about a particular place, but is also a novel for us all, as our fates and feelings are intertwined with the natural world. Joiner's deeply felt and sensitive rendering of the inner lives of men and women in midlife, who are more affected by the place they live than they are aware, shifts in subtle waves, like the ocean that borders the town of Kanazawa where much of the novel is set. Closely observed and with care paid to emotional nuances, Joiner has written a book about adult life, and the endless striving we feel for meaningful connection."
—Marie Mutsuki Mockett, author of Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye and The Tree Doctor
"This slow burn of a novel sears itself into your consciousness with equal parts tension and poignancy. The Heron Catchers skillfully captures one blended, broken family's experience of growth and healing amidst the beauty and precariousness of Kanazawa's natural world."
—Leza Lowitz, author of In Search of the Sun: One Woman's Quest to Find Family in Japan
"Joiner reels the reader in with characteristic fine plotting, carefully crafted writing, vivid imagery and descriptions of life in the Japanese countryside, and a tone of authenticity belonging to a writer who knows and loves Japan. A riveting and worthy follow-up to Kanazawa.”
—Amy Chavez, The Widow, the Priest and the Octopus Hunter: Discovering a Lost Way of Life on a Secluded Japanese Island
“David Joiner’s The Heron Catchers introduces us to the quiet green abundance of the Japanese mountains, the slow beauty of pottery, and the pain of love ended. We follow wounded characters, Sedge and Mariko, as they learn to heal after each has suffered from devastating betrayals. Like the herons they ultimately rescue from injuries incurred by natural and human calamities, they too strike out at those who seek to help them. Not unlike the wandering poet Matsuo Basho who steps into the frame of the story here and there, Joiner offers flashes of insights as sharp and beautiful as a heron taking flight. Readers will find in this elegiac, imaginative work, space for reflection and discovery.”
—Rebecca Copeland, author of The Kimono Tattoo, co-editor of Yamamba: In Search of the Japanese Mountain Witch
"An intimate, rewarding novel of people linked by misfortune who search for redemption, wholeness, and purpose. Joiner evokes his protagonist’s inner world vividly among descriptions of the life, culture, festivities, and natural environment of a small hot-spring town near Kanazawa. The Heron Catchers is an engrossing sojourn in one of Japan’s most charming off-the-beaten-path destinations."
—Jeffrey Angles, translator of Hiromi Ito’s The Thorn Puller and author of My International Date Line (Winner of the Yomiuri Prize for Literature)
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.