You may have already heard the news, if you're following the Stories for Sendai blog, or if you keep up with either of the upcoming anthology's authors, JC Martin or Michelle Davidson Argyle. In case you haven't heard, though, my short story, "Kansai Oniisan" was selected for inclusion in Stories for Sendai. The anthology will features twenty works of fiction or poetry and is scheduled for publication at the end of June. It is an incredibly deep, diverse field of writers, and I am truly honored to be included alongside authors such as Domey Malasarn, Phil Loring, Roland Yeomans, Michelle Davidson Argyle, and JC Martin.
There's a lot going on with this story and this publication that make it extra meaningful for me.
After learning from and being inspired by Michelle Davidson Argyle and Domey Malasarn for a long time, it's also a treat to be published alongside them. Domey and I write in very different ways, but we have both found interesting parallels and connections in our writing from time to time. I can't tell you how much I smiled when I say that, like my own, "Kansai Oniisan," his story, "Obaachan," is titled with a Japanese family word packed with all sorts of implications that would have been lost if presented in English. Michelle is the author of two of my favorite books I read last year: the literary fantasy Cinders, whose main character resonated with me more than virtually any other I've read; and the soft psychological thriller Monarch, set to be released this September by Rhemalda.
The anthology itself is also important. You should read the entire mission statement, but here is an excerpt summary of the excellent work this anthology is doing, as presented on their blog:
We are compiling an anthology of inspirational short stories loosely themed around the strength of the human spirit. All proceeds will be donated to GlobalGiving in aid of victims of the earthquake and tsunami. GlobalGiving will disburse the funds to relief organisations and emergency services on the ground, including International Medical Corps and Save the Children.
I am excited to playing even a small part in that relief effort, and I hope you all will help spread the word, too. This anthology is a great way for readers and writers to do something bigger than stories, and to connect in a real and not only figurative way to the broader world.
But, at the end of the day, what's most meaningful to me is my story itself, "Kansai Oniisan." Like any story, there are things I think I did well, things I wish I'd done better, and things I can't decide whether I like or not. One of the things I think I accomplished was transporting the reader to a context with which they might be unfamiliar. When I used to write fantasy and science fiction, that was a big part of what I did. Now that I write psychological suspense, it's something I go to less frequently. In, "Saturation Point," I loved the opportunity to transport the reader to the crowded Delhi markets. In, "Kansai Oniisan," I really wanted to take the reader to Osaka, Japan.
I've mentioned before that I have a lot of connections of varying depth and seriousness to Japan. It was really important to me that I use this opportunity, not to represent Japan, but to convey some of complex layers of Japanese culture and society which are compelling to me and which make Japan an important and special part of our world. While that's a very challenge for a short story, I believe that, whatever else I accomplished with, "Kansai Oniisan," I did capture some of the tension and hope which are uniquely Japanese.
photo by JKT-c
And, so, with no further ado, the opening to, "Kansai Oniisan," (c) 2011 by C. N. Nevets:
Tanaka Jun popped a takoyaki into his mouth, took the toothpick which had speared it, and flicked it over his shoulder. As he slowly savored the fried octopus, he set the container of remaining treats on the counter and, to the chef’s confusion, walked slowly away. The slim young man adjusted his dark sunglasses, pulled down his hat and, even though it was a hot Osaka summer day, he wrapped a knit scarf around his mouth.
In his pocket, the last mail his cellphone had received still shone with a single character: the stark cross-shaped mark that meant 10.
Watch the Stories for Sendai blog for updates on when the anthology will be available, so you can read the rest of this, as well as all the other stories!