Even though Hiro and Aki remember key events from their own distinct vantage points, they come to a new understanding of their past and the secrets that have been hidden from them...Throughout the book, Onda repeatedly returns to images of clocks, alluding to the complex associations between time and memory...The only remaining object in their apartment is an expensive photo frame with a timepiece...Looking at it, they imagine how their story could have turned out differently...Then focusing their attention to a snapshot from the hike, they consider which emotions shine through—grief or joy, frustration or love...After all, memories, like photos, can be seen through different filters...While some memories swim to the surface easily, some are distorted by time, and others do their best to remain buried...Ultimately, Onda’s novel centers on uncovering deeper aspects of the past, and readers won’t be able to stop reading until the solution comes to light.
... dreamy, circuitous ... Flickering, fragmented, stifled, wavering, twisting, turning — this impression, more than any particulars of plot or character, is what makes Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight memorable ... Onda is an intriguing author, a genre novelist who writes neither neatly within nor self-consciously against genre conventions. Her narratives are elusive and bewildering, and half the fun of reading them is looping around, testing the walls, engaging and puzzling out their labyrinthine structures. But fans of The Aosawa Murders might miss the gripping mystery and eerie, quivering energy of that work. Fish Swimming doesn’t lack for originality, but its substance is less compelling than its form. The fish are hard to pin down, sure, and there’s some pleasure to be had in watching them. This is not quite enough, though, to sustain a suspense novel. The fish just kind of swim from place to place, making interesting patterns and a few jumping splashes in a still pond...All the tension arises from the claustrophobic setup .. .what drives the novel is not a mounting sense of danger, but a series of wild epiphanies that fall like stones then disappear, leaving only the vague, lingering feeling that the water has been disturbed.
... a challenging work ... more insular than The Aosawa Murders ... The committed reader may admire this clinical demonstration of the workings of two mercurial personalities. A less indulgent customer may ask (as does Hiro, near the end of this demanding work), 'What did we resolve? And what didn’t we resolve? I can’t make sense of it any more.'