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Chimères: A Journal of French Literature








In Tsubaki, the first of Aki Shirnazaki's series of five novels, a Rashomon 1-like pentalogy in which the same characters try to unravel the persona} traumas oftheir lives right before the atom bornb hits Nagasaki, the city that they have just moved to, one of the main characters, Yukio, cries out: "Ce n'est pas le temps de chercher la vérité, c'est l'unité qui compte" (Tsubaki 53). ln that instance, he was defending a young Korean unjustly accused of theft. Cou Id the same be said for the rest of Shimazaki's novels? Indeed, in Tsubame, for example, the narrator, a Korean immigrant living in suburban Tokyo must hide her identity during the war to escape persecution and rnurder, has her name changed from the Korean Yonhi to the more Japanese-sounding Mariko, but continues her spiritual camouflage well after Japan's defeat in World War II to the point where her own farnily believes she is in fact Japanese. "Je ne parle à personne de mon origine," she explains, "Mon fils croit, comme autrefois mon mari, que ma mère et mon oncle sont morts pendant le tremblement de terre, en 1923. La défaite du Japon et ! 'indépendance de la Corée n'ont rien changé à l'attitude des Japonais contre les Coréens au Japon" (Tsubame 61).


© 2010 Peter Schulman

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Original Publication Citation

Schulman, P. (2010, 2016-01-11). The Weight of Secrets: Hidden Mirrors of Identity in Aki Shimazaki's Pentalogy. Chimères: A Journal of French Literature, 31(1), 15-27.