International Literature Book Club: Diary of a Void

September 11th 
McNally Jackson Hybrid Event:
Attend In-Person at 134 Prince Street 
Join via Zoom - RSVP Here
On Monday, September 11th, at 7 pm, join us downstairs at our new McNally Jackson Soho, 134 Prince Street, to discuss Diary of a Void (Penguin Books) by Emi Yagi, translated from Japanese by David Boyd and Lucy North. You can attend in person at McNally Jackson Soho or RSVP above to join via Zoom. There is no RSVP required to join in person. Hosted by Yvonne Brooks. 

A woman in Tokyo avoids harassment at work by perpetuating, for nine months and beyond, the lie that she’s pregnant in this prizewinning, thrillingly subversive debut novel about the mother of all deceptions, for fans of Convenience Store Woman and Breasts and Eggs.

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 manufacturer of cardboard tubes—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. 

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 twice won the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature. He has translated fiction by Mieko Kawakami, Izumi Suzuki, and Hiroko Oyamada, among others. 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. Her fiction translations have appeared in GrantaWords Without Borders, and The Southern Review, as well as in The Oxford Book of Japanese Short StoriesThe Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature, and Found in Translation: 100 of the Finest Short Stories Ever Translated;

Buy the Book: 
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Diary of a Void: A Novel By Emi Yagi, David Boyd (Translated by), Lucy North (Translated by) Cover Image
By Emi Yagi, David Boyd (Translated by), Lucy North (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780143136880
Availability: On Our Shelves
Published: Penguin Books - August 8th, 2023