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Diary of a Void: A Novel (Hardcover)

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By Emi Yagi, David Boyd (Translated by), Lucy North (Translated by)
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A prizewinning, thrillingly subversive debut novel about the mother of all deceptions: a woman in Tokyo avoids harassment at work by perpetuating, for nine months and beyond, the lie that she’s pregnant

When thirty-four-year-old Ms. Shibata gets a new job to escape sexual harassment at her old one, she finds that as the only woman at her new workplace—a company that manufactures cardboard tubes for paper towel and toilet paper rolls—she is expected to do all the menial tasks. One day she announces that she can’t clear away her coworkers’ dirty cups—because she’s pregnant and the smell nauseates her. The only thing is . . . Ms. Shibata is not pregnant.

Pregnant Ms. Shibata doesn’t have to serve coffee to anyone. Pregnant Ms. Shibata isn’t forced to work overtime. Pregnant Ms. Shibata rests, watches TV, takes long baths, and even joins an aerobics class for expectant mothers. She’s finally being treated by her colleagues as more than a hollow core. But she has a nine-month ruse to keep up. Before long, it becomes all-absorbing, and with the help of towel-stuffed shirts and a diary app that tracks every stage of her “pregnancy,” the boundary between her lie and her life begins to dissolve.

Surreal and absurdist, and with a winning matter-of-factness, a light touch, and a refreshing sensitivity to mental health, Diary of a Void will keep you turning the pages to see just how far Ms. Shibata will carry her deception for the sake of women, and especially working mothers, everywhere.

About the Author

Emi Yagi is an editor at a Japanese women’s magazine. She was born in 1988 and lives in Tokyo. Diary of a Void is her first novel; it won the Dazai Osamu Prize, awarded annually to the best debut work of fiction.
David Boyd (translator) has translated fiction by Mieko Kawakami, Izumi Suzuki, and Hiroko Oyamada, among others. He has twice won the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature. He is an assistant professor of Japanese at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Lucy North (translator) is the translator of The Woman in the Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura as well as fiction and nonfiction by over half a dozen other modern and contemporary Japanese writers, including Taeko Kono, Fumiko Enchi, Hiroko Oyamada, and Hiromi Kawakami. Her fiction translations have appeared in Granta, Words Without Borders, and The Southern Review, as well as in The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories, The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature, and Found in Translation: 100 of the Finest Short Stories Ever Translated.

Praise For…

“A surreal, engrossing meditation on loneliness, womanhood, and what it actually means to have a work-life balance.” —Mother Jones

“Takes office toxicity and how we cope to new heights.” ―Fortune

“Riveting and surreal . . . Absurdist, amusing, and clever, the story brings subtlety and tact to its depiction of workplace discrimination—as well as a touch of magic. Readers will eagerly turn the pages all the way to the bold conclusion.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“I found myself completely captivated by this novel’s unusual and inviting premise and all that it questions and stirs up. So much teems beneath the surface here!” —Aimee Bender, New York Times bestselling author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

“Filled with sly humor and touching intimacy, Diary of a Void builds from its revolutionary premise into a powerfully resonant story of longing and defiance. An absolutely thrilling read—I didn't want to put it down.” ―Claire Stanford, author of Happy for You

“I loved it. It’s incredible. The story of a woman who—with one tiny lie—transforms her dull existence into a life filled with daily miracles, Diary of a Void is joyful, exuberant, and triumphant. It made my heart sing.” —Claire Oshetsky, author of Chouette

“Darkly funny and surprisingly tender.” ―Kirsty Logan, author of The Gracekeepers and Things We Say in the Dark

“One of the most fun premises I’ve heard all year.” ―Walker Caplan, Literary Hub

“This story really shone for me. . . . You’re on pins and needles to discover what will happen as this fake pregnancy runs its course. . . . The [fun] premise pays off.” ―Eliza Smith, Literary Hub

“What I like about it is that it takes place in Tokyo, but you’re really watching quite a closed world [within] Tokyo, a massive city. It doesn’t feel narrow [or] solipsistic, but you just have her bouncing basically between work and home for a lot of the novel. And I like that sort of tight shot on the characters. I tried to do that with Cult Classic, too. To give you a cinematic comp, I would say Russian Doll does that very well.” ―Sloane Crosley, quoted in Bustle

“Satisfyingly acidulous.” ―Library Journal

“You can’t take your eyes off the page.” ―Croissant

“So tightly written, and so much fun to read.” ―Kikuko Tsumura, author of There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job
“In this fictional diary of a pregnant woman, it is the real, rather than the made-up, aspects of society, such as single parenting and discrimination against women in the workplace, that are powerfully depicted.” ―Kyoko Nakajima, author of The Little House

Product Details
ISBN: 9780143136873
ISBN-10: 0143136879
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: August 9th, 2022
Pages: 224
Language: English