There is no need for you to divest yourself of your own fangs. It would be the world’s loss if you were to do so.
Where the Wild Ladies Are is a fabulist, feminist strand of inventive and unexpectedly tender ghost stories, translated from the Japanese, where the stakes are never quite what the reader expects. These stories grow out from the intersection of feminism and traditional Japanese ghost stories and folklore.
This collection of intertwined stories explores the ways in which the dead continue to entwine with and inform our identities—the ways in which brushes with death, the dead, or with folklore/tradition can rewire the ways we experience bereavement, jealousy, love, infatuation, labor, and kinship.
Startling, funny, affable, eerie, and perceptive, Where the Wild Ladies Are is for readers who loved Hiromi Kawakami’s Parade, Yukiko Motoya’s The Lonesome Bodybuilder, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s Friday Black, Kelly Link’s Get in Trouble, Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties, Helen Oyeyemi’s What’s Not Yours is Not Yours and Samantha Hunt’s The Dark Dark.
A note on humor and accessibility in Where the Wild Ladies Are from translator Polly Barton: “Aoko’s mission is really to make traditional culture and feminist/socially progressive thought accessible to everyone, by making her prose as entertaining as possible. I think with Japanese ghost stories there’s this preconception that we have to approach them with seriousness, or that they’ll be terrifying, whereas this book is written . . . just to be a great rip-roaring yarn.”
A note on ghosts in Where the Wild Ladies Are from translator Polly Barton: “Talking to Aoko, I discovered that from a young age she’s been fascinated by stories where ghosts aren’t these spooky, far-away beings, but who are very much embedded in the daily lives of humans, and that in a way that was the point of departure for the book.”
For a taste of Matsuda’s style, check out her 2015 flash fiction, “Love Isn’t Easy When You’re the National Anthem” in Guernica, told from the perspective of the national anthem. Also check out her 2018 short story “The Woman Dies” in Granta.
Acquired by Soft Skull’s EIC Yuka Igarashi; we aim to continue Soft Skull’s history of successfully publishing stellar works of Japanese literature in translation
Author lives in Tokyo, Japan; translator lives in Bristol, UK
Find in these pages:
A ghost lover you inadvertently fished out of a river and now adoringly bathe each night.
An aunt ghost convincing you to embrace your inner monster.
A message from a company praising your irascible jealousy streak and offering you a ghost job: “Accordingly, when you do pass away, please be sure to get in touch.”
Persuasive door-to-door sales-ghosts selling you peony lanterns and maybe love in the dead of night.
Faulty incense that won’t bring forth the ghost of your beloved cat, Tortie.
A woman who looks like and also is sometimes a fox.
A wife ghost behaving exactly as she pleases: “Full disclosure: I’ve always been a real lazybones. While alive, I made a brave effort to hide my true nature, but now that I’m dead, I behave exactly as I please.”
And many more ghosts.
AOKO MATSUDA is a writer and translator. In 2013, her debut book, Stackable, was nominated for the Yukio Mishima Prize and the Noma Literary New Face Prize. Her novella The Girl Who Is Getting Married was published by Strangers Press in the UK in 2016. In 2019, her short story “The Woman Dies” was shortlisted for a Shirley Jackson Award. She has translated work by Karen Russell, Amelia Gray, and Carmen Maria Machado into Japanese.
POLLY BARTON is a translator of Japanese literature and nonfiction, currently based in Bristol, UK. Her book-length translations include Friendship for Grown-Ups by Nao-cola Yamazaki, Mikumari by Misumi Kubo and Spring Garden by Tomoka Shibasaki. She has translated short stories for Words Without Borders, The White Review, and Granta. After being awarded the 2019 Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize, she is currently working on a nonfiction book entitled Fifty Sounds.