Verso to publish Japanese writer Izumi Suzuki

Verso to publish Japanese writer Izumi Suzuki

Verso Books is to bring out the first English-language publication of Japanese writer Izumi Suzuki's work, releasing a collection of short stories next year. 

Commissioning editor Cian McCourt acquired world English rights from Bunyusha for Terminal Boredom, and all of Suzuki's short stories. A further collection, Love<Death, will be released in 2022. 

Suzuki is described as a "legend of Japanese science fiction" and a countercultural icon. She worked as a model and an actor, and produced numerous essays, works of short fiction and novels, before taking her own life in 1986. 

Commenting on Terminal Boredom, McCourt said: "When a friend doing post-graduate work found a short snippet about Izumi Suzuki's fiction in a footnote and sent it my way, I was intrigued enough to do some digging. My early enthusiasm was bolstered when a reader's report arrived full of notes such as  'argumentative pyjama scenes abound' and 'the subtle wordplay suggests Gertrude Stein at her most playful'. This is a collection of seven pitch-black and punky pleasures, as charming as they are unsettling. I'm excited to share Izumi Suzuki's singular stories with the English-speaking world next year."

The translators for Terminal Boredom are Polly Barton, Sam Bett, David Boyd, Daniel Joseph, Aiko Masubuchi and Helen O'Horan. 

The collection's synopsis states: "In a future where men are contained in ghettoised isolation, women enjoy the fruits of a queer matriarchal utopia – until a boy escapes and a young woman’s perception of the world is violently interrupted.

"The last family in a desolate city struggles to approximate 20th century life on Earth, lifting what notions they can from 1960s popular culture. But beneath these badly learned behaviours lies an atavistic appetite for destruction.

"Two new friends enjoy drinks on a holiday resort planet where all is not as it seems, and the air itself seems to carry a treacherously potent nostalgia. Back on Earth, Emma’s not certain if her emotionally abusive, green-haired boyfriend is in fact an intergalactic alien spy, or if she’s been hitting the bottle and baggies too hard.

"And in the title story, the tyranny of enforced screen-time and the mechanisation of labour, foster a coldhearted and ultimately tragic disaffection among the youth of Tokyo. Nonchalantly hip and full of deranged prescience, Suzuki’s singular slant on speculative fiction would be echoed in countless later works, from Neuromancer to The Handmaid’s Tale. In these darkly playful and punky stories, the fantastical elements are always earthed by the universal pettiness of strife between the sexes, and the gritty reality of life on the lower rungs, whatever planet that ladder might be on. "