Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima

This is a haunting read. It pulls you in and soon you find yourself drowning, gasping for air, reaching towards the light. The single mother of a two-year-old girl opens up to you, tells you all as it is, step after painful step of the way. After separating from her husband, she finds refuge in a light-flooded four-floor apartment where she tries to rebuild her life. It is a fine balancing act between sanity and depression, survival and surrender. She is a tightrope walker and she wobbles and falls down many times. She resorts to drinking which doesn’t do much for her balancing skills. She is vulnerable, incompetent, often late, sometimes short-tempered. As a woman, you can see yourself in her – all those times in your life when you thought you wouldn’t be able to make it through the day. That is what makes it a haunting read. It hits home. It gets under your skin. It could be you.

The dazzling bright light dancing in her flat is symbolic of life. The empty flat on the third floor symbolises new doors, new beginnings opening before her as the story draws to its end. So at last, you can breathe.

I give it 5 stars not because I loved it, but because it was so powerful, so close to the nerve and so painfully honest. Reading it was a vicarious experience I am so glad I only brushed by in passing. But it stays with you and you can’t ignore it.



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