With its flying-waitress cover and kooky title, this Japanese novel – shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize – hints at Murakami-style weirdness. Lonely Tsukiko meets her old teacher in a bar.
A slow-burn May-September romance grows. Delicate marks of the passing seasons reveal Kawakami's frank debt to classical Japanese poetry, while the odd couple's shared meals will tickle foodie palates.
An elegiac sense of speeding time, and yawning distance, drizzles the story – sensitively translated by Allison Markin Powell – with a sweet sadness.