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THE LONESOME BODYBUILDER marks the English-language debut of one of Japan's most celebrated and surreal contemporary writers, Yukiko Motoya

The story collection contains ten lucid yet slippery short stories and one novella perfect for fans of Etgar Keret and Clarice Lispector

Each story begins rooted firmly in reality, until the edges start to blur—shifting from the stable to the surreal with thrilling and beautiful precision

PICNIC IN THE STORM, a story within the collection, won Japan’s prestigious Kenzaburo Oe Prize, which comes with a $30,000 grant for use by the publisher of the English edition for marketing and publicity

A housewife fulfills a new dream of becoming a bodybuilder, without her husband noticing; a group of monkeys in a zoo miraculously bring their chimpanzee friend back to life without pomp and circumstance; and a boutique clerk struggles to help an amorphous customer to find something that fits, no matter the cost. Each story is enchanting and ever so slightly sinister

Motoya won the Akutagawa Prize, Japan’s most prestigious literary prize, for AN EXOTIC MARRIAGE, the novella contained in THE LONESOME BODYBUILDER; this book offers the exciting opportunity to introduce Motoya to a U.S. audience. Previously, her translated stories have appeared in GRANTA and CATAPULT

Bookseller Praise for The Lonesome Bodybuilder

"The Lonesome Bodybuilder takes ordinary people and thrusts them into bizarre situations, which they accept with equanimity: the woman morphing into her husband doesn't question the transformation, just does her best to deal with it. The child confronted with a mysterious specter at the bus shelter doesn't run away, but eventually eats the biscuit he offers (and it's delicious). The world's most dedicated saleswoman will not leave work until her amorphous, possibly alien client finds the perfect garment. It is both amusing and a devastatingly effective way to explore our most elemental fears. Motoya's stories are neon bright with touches of darkness, like Saturday morning cartoons that occasionally veer into the grotesque." —Lauren Peugh, Powell's Books (Portland, OR)

"There's weird and then there's 'oh my goodness, what the heck did I just read?' weird. The stories collected in Yukiko Motoya's The Lonesome Bodybuilder belong to the latter group. These stories are incisive explorations of domestic life fraught with tension and 'out-of-left-field' bizarre field trips into the dark woods of the mind. Immersive, captivating—I can't get enough of Yukiko Motoya!" —Uriel Perez, BookPeople (Austin, TX)

"This collection had me riveted from beginning to end. Each story was a beautiful and intriguing blend of surrealism and the mundane, and nothing of Motoya's succinct language is lost in the translation. An excellent escape book." —Lauren Nopenz Fairley, Curious Iguana (Frederick, MD)

"To call these stories simply strange is to do them a disservice. They are uncanny in that uncomfortably familiar way, when ordinary objects turn out to be magical, and the world does not quite work the way we think it does. And yet when magic occurs, you feel not at all surprised, as if this weirdness is what you had expected all along." —Anton Bogomazov, Politics and Prose (Washington, D.C.)

"I loved these quirky, unique stories and can't wait to see more from this author!" —Christine Onorati, WORD Bookstore (Brooklyn, NY)

"Wunderbar! Hints of Saunders and very reminiscent of Murakami but stands solidly on its own two feet. 'An Exotic Marriage,' 'How to Burden the Girl,' and 'Q&A' all blew me away with their originality, and more importantly, their assault on outdated social expectations. Yet again, an Akutagawa winner that I love!" —Randy Schiller, Left Bank Books (St. Louis, MO)

"The stories in this collection are funny and unnerving, mundane and surreal. It's been a minute since I read something that so truly captured how horrific love and the desire to feel seen can be. I laughed. I cried. I winced. I'm so glad this collection exists." —Kelsey Ford, Skylight Books (Los Angeles, CA)

“To make the everyday mystical and the mystical mundane takes a new and fresh voice—this is one of those collections I hold with reverence and gratitude for making me see the world in a new way. This is a joyful and artfully crafted, totally weird and absolutely amazing collection, and I look forward to telling people about it!” —Mary Cotton, Newtonville Books (Newton, MA)

“Yukiko Motoya is the kind of writer who delights in a soft unraveling, as if you turned a coin over in your palm and caught it winking in earnest. Her stories are grounded in the material, made of shifting, walking daydreams where the unassuming holds unexpected magic. You will find whimsy and the surreal with a bent toward hilarity. Pure curio and phantasmagoria.” —Amanda Ibarra, Flyleaf Books (Chapel Hill, NC)

The Lonesome Bodybuilder is such a special book. Its vignettes will appeal to lovers of the surreal, but also to people who never stopped seeing magic in the everyday. Motoya allows the strange and mystical to transcend paranoia and become an often joyous part of life; without judgement or consequence, the abnormal and normal are able to merge into what might be the weirdest realism yet.” —Sara Balabanlilar, Brazos Bookstore (Houston, TX)

“A phenomenal collection of stories! Yukiko Motoya delivers bursts of the fantastic blended with the intrinsic desires of the human heart. Every section is saturated in dark humor and wonder. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!” —Carissa Unite, Oblong Books & Music (Millerton, NY)

"Prior to reading The Lonesome Bodybuilder, I had never heard of Yukiko Motoya; now, I find myself a convert worshipping at her altar. Across eleven stories (narrated by women more often than not), the strange is used to displace very real questions about gender, power, and relationships. This is a book wherein a husband and wife begin resembling one another to the point that neither looks human; mountain peonies bloom out of underpants; strange men glide off buildings with the help of umbrellas rendered useless in typhoon rains. I loved this collection, how sure each story was of what it wanted to be. Equal parts Aesop and Kafka but as if written by Lydia Davis, The Lonesome Bodybuilder is pure delight." —Rebecca Fortes, Schuler Books (Grand Rapids, MI)

“Right from the beginning title story, The Lonesome Bodybuilder captivated me. Intending to read one at a time, I found myself craving more of Motoya's writing and couldn't put them down. Recommended for anybody who wants a touch of magic and connection this fall.” —Beth Buss, Bookmarks (Winston-Salem, NC)

“In a time where it seems that just about everything is either full of cynicism or, on the other end, boiled down to some meaningless aphorism, the characters as written are guileless and lack all pretense (both in the best possible way); they are full-hearted and searching and though many of the conceits of the stories were a bit out of the ordinary, they still somehow managed to resonate and feel intensely familiar.”—Nathan Halter, The Lahaska Bookshop (Lahaska, PA)

"These short stories are wonderfully weird and quirky, but still accurately portray the doldrums of everyday life. Motoya's characters are familiar; it's the circumstances that provide each story's offbeat nature. This collection is completely original and I don't think you'll read anything quite like it." —James Harrod, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe (Asheville, NC)

Product Details
ISBN-13: 9781593766832
Publisher: Soft Skull Press
Publication Date: November 5th, 2018