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Excerpt Wednesday - Tokio Whip by Arturo Silva

Excerpt Wednesday - Tokio Whip by Arturo Silva

This Wednesday we’ve pulled our quote from Arturo Silva’s Tokio Whip, a book as audaciously experimental as it is lyrically enchanting. Silva’s novel “is part of the lineage of great modernist novels about cities,” writes

Th Japan Times, “and perhaps the first Tokyo novel not by a Japanese that satisfies both in its vision of the Japanese capital and in its vision of what a novel can be.” This is the story of Roberta and Lang and their friends, and their experience of the great Japanese city Tokyo in all its many manifestations to their inquiring, observing, and wandering minds as they banter over the details of a party, a film, the Songs Common to Dreams, Tokyo’s history, the Names of Love.

As this excerpt conveys, Silva’s mellifluous stream-of-consciousness narrative weaves its way through the streets of Tokyo in Joycean fashion, traipsing about with ecstatic fluidity and lavishing poetic attention to the details of daily life in the great Japanese city.

“Rich and strange, strange and rich, Marianne muses, and once more rich and strange. Oh, Tokyo, damn you! Where am I? Here, yes, and one more step – there. Now I’m here, now there. Rich and strange you are, Marianne, a here and there myself. Bless you, Tokyo. Walking in step like a walking dream. A girl in her dreams talking to herself.


  • -Oh, comeon, it’s not modern at all, all this brick, that wood. And look at those dives right under the tracks, that yakuza-type over there eyeing me – what a racket!

  • -Still, if we can stay steady—

  • -As she goes!

  • -On yer feet!

  • -Aye aye, Sir!

  • -Tokyo Station should be just ahead.

But Hiromi does not “stay steady,” thinks a detour will help, and though the tracks are generally still in sight, she and her friends have less their way. She stares in the window of a shop selling medical equipment – all of it made of glass.

  • -Orange Card, IO card, and why “SF Metro” card? – this isn’t San Francisco.

  • -And mine’s all run out, now it really looks like we have to walk.

  • -Well, try to enjoy yourself, Dear.

  • -Eh?

  • -That’s what my Granny used to tell me every morning when I left for school.

  • -Let’s see, she says, as she finds the page in her compact Tokyo map-book. This must be that real old bridge; homeless people sleeping there now around all these banks. My city!

  • -And mine!

  • -Mine too!


Tanizaki’s Dream: Orderly thoroughfares, shining, newly-paved streets, a flood of cars, blocks of flats rising floor upon floor, level on level in geometric beauty, and threading through the city elevated lines, subways, street cars. (But see also Tanizaki on Asakusa: ‘Its constant and peerless richness preserved even as it furiously changes in nature and in its ingredients, swelling and clashing in confusion and then fusing into harmony.’)”

Click here to continue the literary journey!



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