Translated Fiction Review: Territory of Light

June 4, 2020 Uncategorized 4 ★★★

Translated Fiction Review: Territory of LightTitle: Territory of Light
Author: Yūko Tsushima, Geraldine Harcourt
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

Summary: This book was written beautifully and could make for some great discussions, but it was too strange and surreal for me.

This is the “story of a young woman, living alone in Tokyo with her three-year-old daughter. Its twelve, stand-alone fragments follow the first year of her separation from her husband.” (source) It was originally published in monthly installments in a Japanese literary magazine.


This story had a dream-like quality to it that I initially enjoyed. In the first installment, it felt like a peaceful dream about ordinary life. From there, it became more ominous and surreal. I liked this later feeling a lot less. There were a number of actual dream sequences that I particularly disliked. Some were too strange, with our protagonist relating sexual feelings to non-sexual actions. I also disliked most of these scenes simply because I don’t like to spend much time on dreams in fiction. It’s a step too far removed from reality for me. I can care about fictional characters, but events that aren’t even real within the story often feel like a waste of time to me. This is especially true if the embedded dream or fiction doesn’t impact the characters’ “real” life.


The descriptions of light were beautiful, although in many cases where lighting was described, I wanted more symbolism or meaning. This may be because I was missing something, rather than because something was missing. The writing was sparse and felt well thought out.


The plot largely covered mundane events, but they were still thought-provoking and could make for some great book club discussion. The mother in this story struggles with parenting and patience; with finding time for herself and with making adult connections. Sometimes I sympathized with her and sometimes I felt more judgmental. I found it interesting to examine my own reactions here and would definitely enjoy comparing notes with others.

4 Responses to “Translated Fiction Review: Territory of Light”

  1. louloureads

    This sounds a bit like The Girl Who Is Getting Married, which I read a few years ago. I felt like I couldn’t get hold of it because it was so difficult to tell what was real and what was a dream. I want to be able to distinguish between the two, at least! And, as you say, see what the impact on the characters is.

    • DoingDewey

      Yes! I’ve always hated TV episodes where everything is a dream too, so that pet peeve might be part of what bothered me as well.

    • DoingDewey

      Yes, I wish I’d spelled that out clearly in my reviews, because I also liked that we were getting to see an imperfect mother in fiction. I also didn’t feel like we were clearly being asked to judge her as bad for imperfections. I’d love to see more of that in books 🙂
      DoingDewey recently posted…WWII Fiction/Nonfiction TrioMy Profile

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