My Falling Down House
Published by Seren
After losing his job and his home, a young Japanese man seeks refuge in a wood and paper house. He attempts to reconstruct his identity, but with only a cat and a cello for company, and the menacing presence of a shapeshifter (yokai), his ability to hold on to his sanity disintegrates.
My Falling Down House has already won the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation Award - given to a work of fiction or non-fiction which helps interpret modern Japan to the English-speaking world.
"Jayne Joso has given us a philosophical and critical look inside the mind of someone from the ‘underground’ in Dostoevskian style. In this novel, we encounter the notes of Takeo, a ‘man with no more substance than a pencil drawing, an image scratched in sand’, who scribbles his delusions living inside a box within a box. They are the boxed inner dialogue of a man ‘cutaway from the world,’ who crawls into a box within a dilapidated old house, a house that, like him, is thrown out and overlooked in the contemporary world of liberal capitalism. Interspersed with Takeo’s dreams, delusions and memories, the novel progresses in staccato with poetic moments and cutting metaphors. Once brought down to zero, nothing, nobody, and beginning to depart from his cultural self, Takeo starts to see things he could never have seen before. But can he handle such a departure, total freedom from society? Joso uses the metaphor of the box to explore social problems from the inside out, in order to write the story of what happens when we ‘box up the inferior, close the lid, and push the box aside.’ Who is at home, where is home and who gets to decide a home’s inhabitants? Set in contemporary Japan and interspersed with intimate details taken from Joso’s own experiences living in Japan, it simultaneously speaks to contemporary globalizing society at large. A remarkable achievement." - Sho Konishi - Director, Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies, University of Oxford