An European photographer is staying in Tokyo at Minako-San’s house (aunt Minako), a japanese woman who, besides showing her guest the inscrutable and disguising masks typical of Asian culture, welcomes her warmely and sincerely. In Minako’s house, the photographer will meet Mimi, Minako’s niece, a strange girl who will completely transform her life.
Silvia Accorà’s story is written in a fine way, poised between realism and fantasy, perfectly suiting her characters like dresses accurately sewn; there are no words out of place and the writing engraves the page in a precise and unequivocable way, in contrast to the ambiguity of the story told. A story that appeals to both reason (the main character applies it in order to understand the wonders that are happening in her life) and to feelings (these go beyond any logic or reasonable behaviour because only faith is the key to understand them – and is there a faith bigger than love?).
Against the background of bridges, subways, flyovers, street junctions, the photographer is bewitched by Mimi since the first time she appears in her life and her shy love will soon be shared. Nevertheless, Sapphic love is not the central subject of the book and the author treats it in such a delicate way, without showing it off, so that it becomes part of the harmony of the universe and of life’s simplicity. Such pure love rarely occurs. The words used by the author in describing it are so gentle and soft that it allows readers to live this relationship with the same smoothness and lightness shown by the two characters in welcoming it.
The fantastic and alarming ingredient creeps slowly into the story and only when the realistic approach of the novel is took for granted; likewise, the photographer finds it difficult to accept it, even though for Minako-San and Mimi this seems to suit perfectly the natural order of things. Therefore, the ghostly figures, typical of Japanese tradition, materialize and stand out fading against the background of a city full of skyscrapers and blinding lights and put together present-day life and ancestral one without any break. The city itself seems to slow down and almost freeze in front of such a wonder.
The author narrates the story as an evolution and, thus, allows us to live the sequence of events as if we were there, at the anonymous main character’s side, questioning ourselves in the same way, looking for the same answers, showing the same curiosities as she does. Our glance, typical of people coming from Western countries, has all the time to get used to Asian mysteries and to perceive how inevitability belongs to omens as well as to love, to understand how the blindness of life corresponds to the comprehension of death and how reality and fantasy are on superimposed levels. Because improbable events are always possible and mystery, unfathomable like death and resurrection, never completely ends; we feel its consequentiality, its marvellous and terrifying connections.
Silvia Accorà succeeds in putting on a tenuous story by crossing the frontiers of appearance and reality seems to show the inscrutable scheme that we don’t dare exploring for fear to be compelled to look at it like through a mirror. It is a reality that is displayed through references, hints and insinuations. This leads us to prophetic dreams, unables us to read the future, to foresee what is behind the threshold that we are not sure of crossing.
As readers, we too have the opportunity to foretell an ending, to fear it, hoping it won’t come true, like in the best tragedies and in this case, the author also surprises us, because nothing is as we expect and the foreseen tragedy becomes an upsetting metamorphosis.
The soft and faded storytelling and the clear writing, full of surprising details, make the reading something of rare immediateness, which is fascinating and exciting at the same time. We never know what will happen in the next page and we are anxious to find out.
A precious, sophisticated novel that sticks to our mind like a delicate, soft and overwhelming experience; you read it all in one breath and you are completely absorbed.
A magic and irresistible narrative.
Here you can read our interview to Silvia Accorrà, “The Truth behind appearance“.