Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight – June Book of the Month

For June’s book of the month, we’ve picked Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight, a psychological thriller written by bestselling writer Riku Onda and translated from the Japanese by Alison Watts. This is set to become Summer’s essential read for fans of Colleen Hoover, Leila Slimani, and Kimberly McCreight.

Protagonists Aki and Hiro decide to part ways under mysterious circumstances, but not before having one last night in their shared Tokyo flat. Through the course of their time spent together, the chain of events leading to their parting are unveiled. Ever since a mountain trek – during which their guide inexplicably died – they’ve been sleeping with one eye open, each suspecting the other to be a murderer, and determined to extract a confession before the end of the night. Who is the murderer and what actually happened on that fateful trek? All is tensely revealed in a thrilling battle of wills between Aki and Hiro.

Since the release of her previous thriller The Aosawa Murders, Onda has been showered with praise and accolades, including the Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for New Writers, the Japan Booksellers’ Award, the Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize and the Naoki Prize. In 2020 The Aosawa Murders was selected as a New York Times notable book of the year, and one of the best mystery novels of the year by the Guardian. Our book of the month is ultimately a gripping psychological thriller — buried in a literary whodunit — that explores the mysteries of romantic love, memory and attaining self-knowledge, quietly suspenseful and elegantly constructed.

Praise for Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight:

The book’s biggest draw can be summed up in its relentless probing and unpicking of the deepest recesses of morality. What drives us to act the way we do? Who are we really? And can we ever — even with those closest to us — know the inner thoughts of another? Time and again, Onda forces us to confront the ugly truths behind these questions. In doing so, she comes very close to conveying in the textual format what it might mean to be ‘human’, with all the messy, fallible connotations associated with it.

The Japan Society

Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight by Riku Onda is published on the 16th of June 2022

(Bitter Lemon Press, 9781913394592, p/b, £8.99)

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