Fractured book review

A Hiroshima survivor seizes a possibility to face his previous in this timely novel about how nations and people address trauma and also recovery


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Kintsugi is a Japanese art form that celebprices imperfection.

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Artisans repair and also renew broken ceramics utilizing a gold lacquer to accentuate the breaks. Or, as Andrés Neuman defines it his latest novel: “The art of mfinishing cracks without secret. Of repairing while exposing the point of fracture.” 

Fracture starts in Japan throughout the 2011 earthquake and subsequent tsunami, which devastated the nuclear reactor at Fukushima. Yoshie Watanabe, a reexhausted business executive, lives alone. News of the catastrophe takes him back to the finish of the second people battle. As a boy, Yoshie miraculously survived the Hiroshima and also Nagasaki atomic bombs, but has actually invested his life trying to escape his memories of the horror and the shame of his double hibakusha condition. Yoshie shed his closest household and also was carried up by his aunt and also uncle. As shortly as feasible, he moved abroad to research business economics in Paris. 

We follow Yoshie on an epic journey via Paris, New York, Buenos Aires and also Madrid at pivotal moments in their history, told from the perspectives of four women he encounters.

Only in old age does Yoshie realise the damage of having faicaused challenge his trauma, of having "evaded his gaze"A prolific writer, Neuguy – born in Argentina, now based in Granada – delights in language and also etymological ambiguity. In Fracture, he explores the fragmented nature of memory, emotional scars, a city’s wounds after a disaster and the cracks in a relationship brought about by social difference. He draws prodiscovered parallels in between collective traumas – Japan’s battle, Vietnam in 1968, Argentina’s “disappeared”, Chernobyl and also the 2004 Madrid train assaults. Recalling Japan’s implemented silence in the war’s aftermath, Yoshie’s Argentinian girlfriend, Mariela, ponders: “Maybe the the majority of brutal thing is not that you were bombed. Many brutal of all is that they don’t even allow you to tell people that you’ve been bombed. Throughout the dictatorship below they would kill among your youngsters and you couldn’t tell anyone.” 

Only in old age does Yoshie realise the damages of having failed to challenge his trauma, of having actually “evaded his gaze”, and also he decides to travel to Fukushima’s disaster site.

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Neuguy depicts his journey with emotional lyricism: “Spring cushions Route 45 choose a parenthesis. The asphalt is one dark sentence; the digression of flowers does its best to change the topic.” Striving to unite his “scattered memories”, Yoshie visits a town on the perimeter of the Fukushima plant’s danger zone: “Everything looks as unscathed as it does deserted. Streets without cars. Hosupplies without occupants. Shops without customers. Schools without students. This is the without town, he thinks. There’s no destruction: simply subtractivity.” 

Perceptively interpreted by Nick Caistor and also Lorenza Garcia, Fracture is a novel for our times and astonishingly relevant. Radiation, like coronavirus, is an invisible killer. After Fukushima, the official communications about the catastrophe prove untrusted. As one character observes: “the politicians say one point and also then the precise opposite. They don’t desire human being to panic, only to be fairly fearful. That’s difficult.” Neuman suggests “fact depends much less on data than on underlying metaphors”, and that it lies somewbelow in the cracks between genuine occasions and also fictions.

 Fracture by Andrés Neuman, translated by Nick Caistor and also Lorenza Garcia, is publimelted by Granta (£14.99). To order a copy go to guardianbookshop.com. Free UK p&p over £15