Sweet Bean Paste
Sentaro has failed: he has a criminal record, drinks too much, and hasn't managed to fulfill his dream of becoming a writer. Instead, he works in a confectionery shop selling dorayaki, a type of pancake filled with a sweet paste made of red beans. With only the blossoming of the cherry trees to mark the passing of time, he spends his days listlessly filling the pastries. Until one day an elderly, handicapped woman enters the shop.
Tokue makes the best bean paste imaginable, and begins to teach Sentaro her art. But as their friendship flourishes, societal prejudices become impossible to escape, in this quietly devastating novel about the burden of the past and the redemptive power of friendship.
Winner of Les prix des lecteurs du Livre du poche 2017 (France).
'I'm in story heaven with this book.' * Cecelia Ahern, author of PS, I Love You * 'Enthralling...This is that rare book that leaves readers truly humbled, reminding us of everything we should be thankful for, and that it is never too late to do something with our lives.' * The Bookbag * 'Sukegawa-enabled by Watts's lucid translation-tells an endearing, thoughtful tale about relationships and the everyday meaning of life. VERDICT Readers in search of gently illuminating fare-e.g., Shion Miura's The Great Passage, Jeff Talarigo's The Pearl Diver-will appreciate this toothsome treat.' * Library Journal * 'Although Tokue's past is a reflection of a dark chapter of Japanese history, her wisdom, patience, and kindness shape this touching and occasionally wistful novel. Through Tokue's story, Sukegawa eloquently explores the seeds of biases and challenges us to truly listen to the natural world and the messages it artfully hides.' * Booklist * 'A poignant, poetic fable.' * Denis Theriault, author of The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman * 'A perfect example of cover & content in total harmony - I Ã¢ Â¤Ã¯Â¸ this little masterpiece.' * Gary Powell, Foyles * `An ode to cuisine and to life. Poignant, poetic, sensual: a treat.' * Lausanne Cites * `This mixture of grief and solace, cherry blossoms and red beans is a recipe for happiness.' * Radio SRF 2 Kultur Kompakt *
Durian Sukegawa studied oriental philosophy at Waseda University, before going on to work as a reporter in Berlin and Cambodia in the early 1990s. He has written a number of books and essays, TV programmes and films. He lives in Tokyo. Alison Watts is a freelance translator, translating literature from Japanese into English. She lives in Ibaraki, Japan.