A collection of contemplative, lyrical stories examining the visible and invisible consequences of atomic power on Japanese society
Sunrise is a collection of interconnected stories continuing Erika Kobayashi’s examination of the effects of nuclear power on generations of women. Connecting changes to everyday life to the development of the atomic bomb, Sunrise shows us how the discovery of radioactive power has shaped our history and continues to shape our future.
In the opening, eponymous story “Sunrise,” Yoko, born exactly two years and one day after Nagasaki was decimated, mirrors her life to the development of nuclear power in Japan. In “Precious Stones,” four daughters take their elderly mother to the restorative waters of a radium spring, exchanging tales of immortality. In “Hello My Baby, Hello My Honey,” a woman goes into labor during the final days of WWII. And finally, “The Forest of Wild Birds” shows Erika visiting the site of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster, touring grounds that were once covered in green.
Translator Brian Bergstrom returns in this collection, bringing to life Kobayashi’s unsettling, lasting, and striking prose. The stories in Sunrise force a reckoning with the lasting effects of known and unknown histories and asks how much of modern life is influenced by forces outside of our control.
About the Author
Erika Kobayashi is a visual artist based in Tokyo and the author of Trinity, Trinity, Trinity. Her novel Breakfast with Madame Curie, published in 2014 by Shueisha, was shortlisted for both the Mishima and the Akutagawa Prize. Sunrise: Radiant Stories is her second work of fiction to be published in English.
TRANSLATOR BIO: Brian Bergstrom is a lecturer and translator who has lived in Chicago, Kyoto, and Yokohama. His writing and translations have appeared in publications including Granta, Aperture, Lit Hub, Mechademia, Japan Forum, positions: asia critique, and The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories. He is the editor and principal translator of We, the Children of Cats by Tomoyuki Hoshino (PM Press), which was longlisted for the 2013 Best Translated Book Award. His translation of Trinity, Trinity, Trinity by Erika Kobayashi (Astra House, 2022) won the 2022 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission (JUSFC) Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature. He is currently based in Montréal, Canada.
"As often as Kobayashi roots her work in historical and scientific research, she also does so in rich and evocative metaphors . . . A remarkable collection." —Kirkus Reviews
"Like a brilliant and rare gem, Erika Kobayashi's Sunrise: Radiant Stories stuns with layered intelligence and powerful prose. Each story offers a type of familial intimacy charged with profound historical clarity. How thankful I am to Brian Bergstrom for this indelible translation from one of Japan's brightest stars. This book feels like it's made of magic; that it's made of light." —Kali Fajardo-Anstine, bestselling author of Woman of Light
"Reading Erika Kobayashi‘s stories is almost like getting to know modern Japan through a poetry-science lab experiment. Kobayashi mixes her fascination with the aftermaths and consequences of WWII and the social issues of contemporary Japan with a kind of child-like curiosity that make her story both complex and accessible. Nearly every story gives the impression of a mysterious chemical reaction that is happening before the reader’s eyes. A mesmerizing collection." —Prabda Yoon, author of The Sad Part Was
"Kobayashi's uncanny stories probe for the contacts between our most intimate lived experience and the awesome yet subtle cosmic forces that permeate it, from atomic radiation to the ruthless arrow of time. Bergstrom's rich, graceful translation offers us the chance to peer over Kobayashi's shoulder as she works these experiments, holding our breath for the next fraught and wonderful discovery." —Theodore McCombs, author of Uranians
"Combining a sense of daring with a sense of wonder, Erika Kobayashi's Sunrise: Radiant Stories presents boldly speculative visions side by side with intense and finely wrought everyday moments. Throughout this striking collection, Kobayashi creates surprising space for her reader to eavesdrop on intergenerational conversations between the past, the present, and imagined futures that seem to glow just over the horizon." —Lee Conell, author of The Party Upstairs
"Erika Kobayashi’s stories are told with so little artifice that one might think them fairy tales, did they not float like islands adrift on a dark sea of history." —John Whittier Treat, author of First Consonants
"I loved Erika Kobayashi’s Trinity Trinity Trinity, so I am lining up for her collection of strange and reflective connected stories about nuclear power and its effect on Japanese people and society, especially its women." —Karla J. Strand, Ms. Magazine