Mariko Nagai, author of “Georgic: Stories,”

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  • Categories: Literary
  • Event posted: May 5, 2011
  • Last updated: Sept. 16, 2014

Event details

Mariko’s stories are informed by Japanese folk tales, and by her research on World War II-era events. Although Mariko is a Japanese national, she writes in English and was educated at Boston University and New York University, having grown up in Europe and the United States as well as Japan. She has been a fellow at Yaddo, UNESCO-Aschberg Bursaries for the Arts, Rockefeller Foundation, etc., has taught at Tufts, won two Pushcart Prizes. Praise for GEORGIC: STORIES Playing on a classical form of poetry celebrating the labors of the farmer, Nagai (Histories of Bodies) sets these 10 haunting tales within a rural landscape ravaged by war and famine and denuded of bucolic splendor. In “Grafting,” a village in the grips of a drought that has already reduced the number of mouths to feed by selling off the village’s daughters now turns to dispense with the old people. The narrator knows she must have no mercy as she carries her old mother up the mountain to leave her with the others. In the title story, a village is nearly stripped of men thanks to a war and “a promise of gold.” With the land fallen fallow and ravaged by locusts, the protagonist feeds her starving children by prostituting herself to the one man left, the Idiot Son. Other stories directly refer to history, such as the plight of Manchurian women at the end of WWII (”Autobiography”), and a prisoner’s chilling account of murdering an American pilot (”Confession”). Starkly recounted with a clear, cold tone, these stories carry the weight of a survivor bearing witness. —Publishers Weekly Born in Tokyo and raised in Europe and America, Mariko Nagai studied English at New York University. Her numerous honors include the Erich Maria Remarque Fellowship from New York University, fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, UNESCO-Aschberg Bursaries for the Arts, Yaddo, and Djerassi. She has received Pushcart Prizes both in poetry and fiction. Nagai’s collection of poems, Histories of Bodies, won the Benjamin Saltman Prize from Red Hen Press. She teaches creative writing and literature at Temple University, Japan Campus in Tokyo. Her website is www.mariko-nagai.com. Read an interview with Mariko Nagai about GEORGIC: STORIES at http://cas.umkc.edu/bkmk/interviews/Nagai-Reader%27s%20Guide.pdf

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