Paperback: 172 pages
Publisher: Escribana Books (December 5, 2017)
A Mexican young woman goes to Japan in the early 80s. She settles in the country, not knowing Japanese or much about Japanese culture, but eager to absorb both. This she does gradually, in touch with ordinary people who take an interest in her. In very little time the young Mexican is speaking Japanese and integrated into Japanese life, earning a living like ordinary people and learning the details of a culture foreign but alluring to her. Japan enters her heart and becomes a part of her life’s project. Years later, having become a professor of Latin American literature in the U.S., and also an interpreter of the Japanese language, she will reminisce about her early experiences in Japan and the process by which she came to love the country. This is the story told in this book: the transformation of a young woman through immersion in a foreign civilization that will become her own intellectually and spiritually. It is the tale of Japan in the heart: Kokoro.
Review “The traditional styles of dress, food varieties, the idiosyncrasies of work, sports fanaticism, gang loyalties, the minutiae of sūmo, the Japanese train system, and the delicacies of the social customs inherent to Japan are all described in sensitive language and in minute detail. … Although Kokoro is not a novel but rather a cultural Baedeker, it maintains the reader’s interest and attention throughout.” Janet Mary Livesey, World Literature Today “Kokoro is a beautifully narrated story with a moving immediacy made apparent through its precisely-selected details and its emotional depth. The author is a published poet and here she demonstrates that gift with her exquisite prose. … Kokoro places the author among the best contemporary Mexican essayists.” Roberto González Echevarría, Yale University “This is a subtle and exquisite book written with the “Kokoro” (heart) of a spontaneous and sincere young woman.” Kato Takahiro, Nanzan University, Nagoya, Japan “Kokoro will be a fundamental reading for anyone who delves into the culture of Japan. Fernando Cid Lucas, AEO. Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain About the Author Araceli Tinajero was born and raised in Mexico City. Before joining The City College of New York and the Graduate Center she taught Japanese at the University of Wales and Spanish and Latin American literature at Middlebury College and Yale University. She is the author of Orientalismo en el modernismo hispanoamericano and El Lector: A History of the Cigar Factory Reader. Her editions and co-editions include Cultura y letras cubanas en el siglo XXI, Orientalisms of the Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian World (Escribana Book), Exilio y cosmopolitismo en el arte y la literatura hispánica, Technology and Culture in Twentieth Century Mexico, and Handbook on Cuban History, Literature, and the Arts.