Katzuo is at sea after being forced out of his job as a literature professor without warning. He retreats into flânerie, musing with imaginary interlocutors, roaming the streets, and reciting the poems of Martín Adán. Slowly, Nakamatsu begins to arrange his muted ceremony of farewell. He conjures his smiling wife Keiko and wonders how he lost his Japanese community with her death. He spruces himself up with a pinstripe tie, tortoiseshell glasses, and wooden cane, taking on the costume of a man he knew as a child, hoping to grasp that man's tenacious Japanese identity.
Steeped in the narrator's grief ... The Enlightenment of Katzuo Nakamatsu qualifies in only the barest sense as realism. It never quite departs what we know to be possible, but a sad magic pervades it anyway.
Oshiro manages to expose decades of invisible history, including the U.S.-initiated deportation of Japanese Peruvians to U.S. prison camps during WWII. Talented polyglot Shyue enables Oshiro’s debut in English, rendering Oshiro’s dense, lyrical prose into a resonating anti-bildungsroman of a man’s dissolution.