Revenge, by Yoko Ogawa, is a collection of 11 disturbing short stories about seemingly ordinary people with ordinary lives. Though each story seems mundane, there lies beneath the surface the deeper, darker side of the human mind filled with strange desires and unspeakable emotions.
The 11 short stories, though each one distinct and independent, are also linked to one another by recurring themes and images. The link between the 11 stories are subtle, yet adds depth and mystery to each story and to the collection as a whole.
The stories in Revenge are tragic, haunting, heartbreaking, mysterious, sad, but disturbingly beautiful. The stories in the collection aren’t necessarily about revenge or retribution. Most of the stories are about ordinary people’s psyche – their guilty pleasures, hidden desires, and the darker, private sides of their personalities.
One story is about a mother who goes to a bakery every year on her son’s birthday to buy his favorite cake, despite the fact that her son has been dead for the past 12 years…
Another story tells the tale of a talented bag maker so gets a strange commission for a unique bag….
In another story, a young boy and girl find an old abandoned post office full of kiwis – the answer to which can be found in one of the other short stories…
Though short and simple, Revenge can be a rather somber and depressing read – not to be taken lightly or dismissed as a collection of random stories of strange people.
Revenge (1998) – Yoko Ogawa / English translation by: Stephen Snyder (2013)
Harvill Secker – 162 pages
Personal rating: 3/5