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Finger Bone

Finger Bone

Hiroki Takahashi (translated by Takami Nieda)

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Publication info

  • Designed by Bumpei Kii
  • 128 pages
  • Published
  • 9781739822590 (pb) / 9781915829009 (e)

Author | Translator

HIROKI TAKAHASHI was born 8 December 1979 in Towada, Aomori Prefecture. In 2014, he won the Shincho Prize for New Writers for his debut Finger Bone, and the 39th Noma Literary Prize for Sunday People in 2017. His novel Ceremonial Fire won the 159th Akutagawa Prize in 2018. Takahashi’s other works include the works Morning Glory, Swimming School, and When the Music Stops.

TAKAMI NIEDA has translated more than ten works from Japanese into English and has received numerous grants and residencies in support of her translations, including the PEN/Heim Translation Fund. Her translation of the novel Go by Kazuki Kaneshiro was awarded the Freeman Book Award in 2018. She teaches writing and translation at Seattle Central College in the US.

1942. At the turning point of the war, the Imperial Japanese Army is in retreat. On Papua New Guinea, the unnamed narrator of Finger Bone is wounded in the fighting and sent to a field hospital to recover. There, he befriends other injured men only to watch them die one by one from their wounds, hunger, and disease. When a soldier dies, instead of a returning the body to Japan, a medic cuts off the corpse’s index finger, burns away the flesh, and prepares the remaining bone to be sent back to the soldier’s family. The narrator carries the finger bone of his friend in an aluminum tin with the promise he will return the bone to his comrade’s young son.

Finger Bone is the prize-winning debut by famed Japanese author Hiroki Takahashi. The novel explores the self-consuming nature of imperialism, the ingloriousness of war, and how we are all identical in death.

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