Goodnight Tokyo by Atsuhiro Yoshida

A varied cast of characters, all engaging in their separate ways and acting upon their individual motives find closure to their divergent problems and needs provide a reassuringly human tone to this highly interesting novel.

Goodnight Tokyo by Atsuhiro Yoshida
Europa Editions
Paperback | $18
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It’s 1:00 A.M. in Tokyo. Everything in this book begins at that time in that place. Each chapter begins in this way, in one form or another (the clock struck, the clock showed, it was exactly, etc.). This reassuringly gentle collection of stories of the residents of that huge city covers a lot of ground. Failed proprietors of all-night cafes, a ubiquitous cab driver, a second-hand shop owner whose business caters only to those who are awake in the wee hours, a professional woman who sneaks out to pilfer loquat fruits and distill them into a potent brew: these are some of the quirky and fascinating denizens of this murky world. How they interact, knowing or unknowingly provides the fodder for this delightful assembly of characters and situations.


Despite the seemingly sinister potential of time and place, these tales are about human kindness, connection and generosity. This novel is remarkable in that it transforms what would ordinarily be a grim scenario into something positive and hopeful. There is sadness and longing here but ultimately redemption and emotional fulfillment wrapping up the whole in a satisfying manner. It is a cleverly imagined and skillfully told tale that will be appealing to a broad audience of readers. Literary prose, heart-warming situations, intriguingly strange occurrences; all these weave an intriguing pattern. Like many classic books, the individual accounts of the same set of circumstances provides a full-bodied narrative that makes the entirety uniform in tone and purpose. People are good. They will do good, if given the opportunity.


As with all Europa publications, the quality of the writing and translation is first-rate. The accessibility of the characters and their individual situations facilitates an ease of navigation that is pleasant to the veteran reader and the novice as well. A well-knit plot with painterly depictions of a variety of personalities moves together to a shared end.