Ground Zero Nagasaki : Stories
Set in contemporary Nagasaki, the six short stories in this collection draw an unflinching portrait of the A-bomb's horrific, ongoing trauma. Whether they experienced the attack directly or have merely heard about it from survivors, many of the characters in these tales filter their pain and alienation through their Catholic faith, illuminating a side of Japanese culture little known in the West. For hundreds of years, Christianity was suppressed in Nagasaki, but the religion enjoyed a revival in modern times. The Urakami Cathedral, the center of Japanese Christian life, stood at ground zero of the A-bomb attack.
In "Birds," a man in his sixties reflects on his life as a husband, father, and grandfather. Just a baby when he was found crying in the rubble near ground zero, he knows neither his parents' nor his own identity. His birthday is set as August 9, the day the A-bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. In other stories, a woman is haunted by her brief affair with a married man, who is now dead, and the parents of a schizophrenic man -- a virtual time bomb -- murders his wife, and they struggle to make sense of the aftermath of the crime. These characters battle with guilt, shame, loss, love, and the limits of explaining an inexplicable event. They feel anger toward those who were not affected by the bomb and ambivalence toward a God who would allow such horror to happen.