Out on 16 May 2019

The Bells of Old Tokyo

Anna Sherman

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16 May 2019
9781529000450
240 pages
Synopsis

In The Bells of Old Tokyo, Anna Sherman explores Japan and revels in all its wonderful particularity. As a foreigner living in Tokyo, Sherman’s account takes pleasure and fascination in the history and culture of a country that can seem startlingly strange to an outsider.

From her search for the lost bells of the city – the bells by which its inhabitants kept time before the Dutch introduced clocks – to her personal friendship with the owner of a small, exquisite cafe, who elevates the making and drinking of coffee to an art-form, here is Tokyo in its bewildering variety: from the love hotels of Shinjuku to the appalling fire-storms of 1945 (in which many more thousands of people died than in Hiroshima or Nagasaki), from the death of Mishima to the impact of the Tohoku earthquake of 2011.

For fans of The Lonely City, and Lost in Translation, The Bells of Old Tokyo is a beautiful and original portrait of Tokyo told through time.

A tour-de-force mapping, in four dimensions, of the amazing place we call “Tokyo.” I realized I barely know the city . . . So much is dealt with so beautifully – Mishima, the 1945 firebombs, the tangle that is Shinjuku . . . Wonderful . . .

Liza Dalby

If a more soulful and original book on Japan has been published in the past few years, I haven’t seen it. Anna Sherman ventures deep into the land and its silences with an attention to the spaces between words, a lightly worn erudition and a poetic grace – a feel for all that she doesn’t have to say – that any of the rest of us might envy. This is the rare book that looks past the zany and clashing surfaces of Japan to excavate its heart, and everything we’ll never be able to explain about the place, even as we bow before it.

Pico Iyer

An enchanting read, drawing you into Sherman’s Tokyo world in a way that makes you wonder why you shouldn’t fly there right this minute, with her book as the only guide you’ll ever need.

Xu Xi