After devouring the last book I read by Andres Neuman, Traveller of the Century, it was great to see that there was a new title coming out from the Argentinian author. Granta have published Fracture, a poignant story about Yoshie Watanabe, who had been greatly affected by trauma, and goes through life in a nomadic fashion, dealing habitually with love and loss.
Fracture (Fractura), Neuman’s fifth book translated into English spans across continents and decades of the life of Mr Watanable. At the heart of the novel is 2011’s devastating earthquake and subsequent Fukushima nuclear disaster. Obviously affecting, Yoshie is traumatised and can never go back to seeing Japan as his home, as it would never go back to what it once was, the home that he knew too well.
“He showed me his scars, a fine mesh covering his forearms and back like internal branches, as if he were carrying a tree. Then he saw mine. We felt light, a little ugly and very beautiful. Two survivors.”
Fracture is a story about survival and the beauty that emerges from broken things. It may well be connected to this view wabi-sabi, but the writing is what makes this novel a riveting read.
Mr. Watanabe is a victim of one of the largest collective traumas of the last century, and a fugitive from his own memory. A survivor of the atomic bombs dropped in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, he has evaded the trauma of those experiences for most of his adult life.
We hear about most of his journey through the eyes of four women based in Paris, New York, Buenos Aires, and Madrid. They all tell their own stories of knowing and loving Mr Watanabe to an enigmatic Argentine journalist, their intimate perspectives giving not only an insight into Yoshie but into themselves, and there is much to unpack with each of these lovers.
Written with compassion, intimacy and purpose, Fracture encompasses some of the most urgent political, social and environmental questions of contemporary life, about collective trauma, memory and love. It’s bizarre that this title didn’t pick up more acclaim and awards, demonstrating the beauty and poignancy that Neuman has within him. It’s a must-read for those that love an embellished, character-based novel.
Fracture is out now, published by Granta