The Melancholy of Mechagirl
This is a unique collection--while Ventriloquism was a general collection of everything ever, Mechagirl brings together all my Japanese-themed short fiction. That turns out to be rather a lot. Some, or perhaps even most of you, know that I lived in Japan for several years and the experience had a profound effect on my work. I'm very excited to have all of it in one place, and with such an amazing cover and team behind it. I mean seriously, just look at that cover!
It'll be out in July and is available for pre-order now. There's also a brand new novelette called Ink, Water, Milk in it, along with some other rare, out of print, or new pieces. It'll also be simultaneously published in Japanese, which is very exciting for me.
Now, there's an elephant in the room, and even if you don't see it, I do, so I'm going to go poke it in the trunk.
Yes, this is a collection of fiction about Japan written by a white woman. Yes, that white woman lived in Japan because of the US Navy and her ex-husband being an officer in said organization and that is not a value-free situation. Culturally, it is quite, quite fraught. And when VIZ first approached me concerning this project, their first from a non-Japanese author, I didn't know what to think, whether it was the right thing to do. I have always tried (and it's not even close to my place to say if I've succeeded) to write about Japan with respect and quality and sensitivity to the fact that I am obviously and forever an outsider. Nevertheless, it was a period in my life that had a profound and indelible effect on me, and in writing about it I have always been trying to integrate and interrogate my own experience, both from within and without, without being overly kind to myself and my culpability or overly romantic or unforgivably ignorant or bullheaded concerning Japanese culture. That is always an iterative process. You circle the thing itself endlessly and never quite arrive at it. I could not have helped writing about Japan, it was always only a question of how I wrote about it, and I hope, I hope I have done well.
And ultimately, what decided me was that a Japanese publisher thought I did at least well enough to ask for this collection and put their weight behind it. And if I wrote these stories to begin with, I should be willing to stand by them as a body of work. This is a very personal book, full of feels, as the kids say these days. It is not a book that purports to speak for Japanese culture in any way, but one which speaks for its author, for a span of ten years of circling Japan and never reaching it, and a single woman's relationship with a nation not her own, but one which, very occasionally, sat down to tea with her.
Here's hoping you enjoy it. (And stay tuned for another collection post shortly! My new general collection, The Bread We Eat in Dreams, is coming out in December!)