The Lonesome Bodybuilder is the first book I’ve read from Yukiko Motoya, but with all due respect, it won’t be the last one. You will be amazed by the author’s imagination when you encounter the things as familiar as they are strange in her stories.

The bizarre and the familiar

The Lonesome Bodybuilder is a book of eleven stories, a couple of them are very short, and some of them are longer. But I can say that none of them disappointed me. Some even surprised me so much that I couldn’t read the book for a while and I had to sit and think about what I had just read. As you read the stories that deal with issues such as marriage, love, relationships, loneliness, privacy and individuality, you will be more interested in what the author is like. How can a story be that weird and that familiar at the same time? Who thinks like that? Indeed, a different experience for story lovers. 

The Lonesome Bodybuilder - Yukiko Motoya

This is a book you must read if you love magical, bizarre and yet familiar and real stories. Each story will leave you in awe. A lot of them will make you think how creative a writer can be. Or is it just creativity? I think there is something else to it. Highly recommended.

About the book: The Lonesome Bodybuilder

A housewife takes up bodybuilding and sees radical changes to her physique–which her workaholic husband fails to notice. A boy waits at a bus stop, mocking businessmen struggling to keep their umbrellas open in a typhoon–until an old man shows him that they hold the secret to flying. A woman working in a clothing boutique waits endlessly on a customer who won’t come out of the fitting room–and who may or may not be human. A newlywed notices that her husband’s features are beginning to slide around his face–to match her own.

In these eleven stories, the individuals who lift the curtains of their orderly homes and workplaces are confronted with the bizarre, the grotesque, the fantastic, the alien–and, through it, find a way to liberation. The English-language debut of one of Japan’s most fearlessly inventive young writers.

Buy now from Soft Skull Press 

About the author: Yukiko Motoya

Yukiko Motoya was born in Ishikawa Prefecture in Japan in 1979. After moving to Tokyo to study drama, she started the Motoya Yukiko Theater Company, whose plays she wrote and directed. Her first story, “Eriko to zettai,” appeared in the literary magazine Gunzo in 2002. Motoya won the Noma Prize for New Writers for Warm Poison in 2011; the Kenzaburo Oe Prize for Picnic in the Storm in 2013; the Mishima Yukio Prize for How She Learned to Love Herself in 2014; and Japan’s most prestigious literary prize, the Akutagawa Prize, for An Exotic Marriage in 2016. Her books have been published or are forthcoming in French, Norwegian, Spanish, and Chinese, and her stories have been published in English in GrantaWords Without BordersTender, and Catapult.

– First Sentence – 

The Lonesome Bodybuilder - Yukiko Motoya
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

Japanese Literature – A Literary Journey

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