Published by Vertical on May 2003 (first published January 1991)
Genres: Contemporary, Japanese literature, LGBT+
They got married ten days ago. They haven't had sex yet and they don't intend to.
I discovered this book through my quest to find as many LGBT+ themed Japanese literature books as possible (hint: there are very few in translation). If you’re interested in finding out more titles, I created a Listopia list on Goodreads that others have contributed to as well: here
This book is one of those typical titles in Japanese literature that don’t seem to get much love on Goodreads, with an average of only 3.62 stars. And I genuinely think it deserves better. The book portrays the marriage between Shoko, who suffers from emotional instability, and Mutsuki, who is gay. The marriage is a sham to keep both sets of parents happy – and as the parents only know about the ‘undesirability’ of their own child, and not that of the partner, they are happy with the match.
Sounds like a plot that could turn ugly quite easily, and I was a bit worried before I started reading. But Ekuni has created two absolutely lovable and loving characters, and shows great respect to them. I fell in love with both Shoko and Mutsuki from the start. Their relationship is not portrayed as something negative (although, as you can imagine, the odds of it lasting are slim).
I must admit that the plot isn’t very elaborate, and the ending of the book felt a little hurried. However, Ekuni managed to end the book in more or less the way I was hoping, and I felt so warm and fuzzy that I still gave it 5 stars on Goodreads. I loved it!
Sadly sham marriages where one or both of the partners are LGBT+ aren’t that unusual in Japan. I highly recommend Ellen Page’s and Ian’s Gaycation episode about Japan for more on the topic. It can be watched for free here, it’s an excellent episode!
On another note: the dustcover on this book is HIDEOUS but look at the much cuter cover that’s hiding underneath!