Where the Wild Ladies Are (Paperback)

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By Aoko Matsuda, Polly Barton (Translator)
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Staff Reviews

Who are the wild ladies? They're ghosts and spirits, but not as you might expect. These ghosts are women who, by and large, feel a freedom in death that they never had in life. Hina-chan was murdered by a spurned suitor and was recovered as a skeleton- but every night she appears at her rescuer's door, to be bathed and loved until the next morning.  A young woman's aunt, who killed herself when her lover rejected her, returns to her niece in a much better mood-- in fact, her ebullient manner and joie de vivre spills over into her niece's formerly dismal life. You'll meet ghosts who are nosy neighbors, fashion mavens, and factory workers. These 17 stories are funny, often poignant, and surprisingly nourishing to the soul. Don't miss this delightfully original book!


— From Cindy's Recs


In this witty and exuberant collection of feminist retellings of traditional Japanese folktales, humans live side by side with spirits who provide a variety of useful services--from truth-telling to babysitting, from protecting castles to fighting crime.

A busybody aunt who disapproves of hair removal; a pair of door-to-door saleswomen hawking portable lanterns; a cheerful lover who visits every night to take a luxurious bath; a silent house-caller who babysits and cleans while a single mother is out working. Where the Wild Ladies Are is populated by these and many other spirited women--who also happen to be ghosts. This is a realm in which jealousy, stubbornness, and other excessive "feminine" passions are not to be feared or suppressed, but rather cultivated; and, chances are, a man named Mr. Tei will notice your talents and recruit you, dead or alive (preferably dead), to join his mysterious company.

In this witty and exuberant collection of linked stories, Aoko Matsuda takes the rich, millenia-old tradition of Japanese folktales--shapeshifting wives and foxes, magical trees and wells--and wholly reinvents them, presenting a world in which humans are consoled, guided, challenged, and transformed by the only sometimes visible forces that surround them.

About the Author

AOKO MATSUDA is a writer and translator. In 2013, her debut book, Stackable, was nominated for the Yukio Mishima Prize and the Noma Literary New Face Prize. Her novella The Girl Who Is Getting Married was published by Strangers Press in the UK in 2016. In 2019, her short story "The Woman Dies" was shortlisted for a Shirley Jackson Award. She has translated work by Karen Russell, Amelia Gray, and Carmen Maria Machado into Japanese. POLLY BARTON is a translator of Japanese literature and nonfiction, currently based in Bristol, UK. Her book-length translations include Friendship for Grown-Ups by Nao-cola Yamazaki, Mikumari by Misumi Kubo and Spring Garden by Tomoka Shibasaki. She has translated short stories for Words Without Borders, The White Review, and Granta. After being awarded the 2019 Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize, she is currently working on a nonfiction book entitled Fifty Sounds.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781593766900
ISBN-10: 1593766904
Publisher: Soft Skull Press
Publication Date: October 20th, 2020
Pages: 288
Language: English