Nominated by:

Leipziger Stadtische Bibliotheken, Germany

Dunedin Public Libraries, New Zealand

Publisher of nominated edition:

Scribner, UK

Atria Books, USA

The Japanese Lover

Isabel Allende    

Translated from the original Spanish by Nick Caistor & Amanda Hopkinson

In 1939, as Poland falls under the shadow of the Nazis and the world goes to war, young Alma Belasco’s parents send her overseas to live with an aunt and uncle in their opulent San Francisco mansion. There she meets Ichimei Fukuda, the son of the family’s Japanese gardener, and between them a tender love blossoms, but following Pearl Harbor the two are cruelly pulled apart. Throughout their lifetimes, Alma and Ichimei reunite again and again, but theirs is a love they are forever forced to hide from the world.
Decades later, Alma is nearing the end of her long and eventful life. Irina Bazili, a care worker struggling to reconcile her own troubled past, meets the older woman and her grandson, Seth, at Lark House nursing home. As Irina and Seth forge a friendship, they become intrigued by a series of mysterious gifts and letters sent to Alma, and learn about Ichimei and this extraordinary secret passion that has endured for nearly seventy years.

(from publisher)

About the Author

Born in Peru and raised in Chile, Isabel Allende is the author of a number of bestselling and critically acclaimed books, including The House of the Spirits, Daughter of Fortune, Paula, and My Invented Country. Her books have been translated into more than thirty-five languages and have sold more than 65 million copies worldwide. She lives in California.

Librarians’ Comments

A wonderful love story which spans decades. Written with great attention to historical detail, and with empathy and understanding of her strong, complex characters, with major themes of ageing, loss, love and death.

Allende was awarded the Book of Gold by the Uruguayan Book Chamber, the Carl Sandburg Prize in 2013, the Hans Christian Anderson Prize for Literature in 2011, and the Chilean National Prize for Literature in 2010. Her work has been translated into German, French and Catalan.

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