Translated from the German by Sheila Dickie
Twenty-year-old Taguchi Hiro has spent the last two years of his life living as a hikikomori—a shut-in who never leaves his room and has no human interaction—in his parents’ home in Tokyo. As Hiro tentatively decides to re-enter the world, he spends his days observing life around him from a park bench. Gradually he makes friends with Ohara Tetsu, a middle-aged salaryman who has lost his job but can’t bring himself to tell his wife, and shows up every day in a suit and tie to pass the time on a nearby bench. As Hiro and Tetsu cautiously open up to each other, they discover in their sadness a common bond. Regrets and disappointments, as well as hopes and dreams, come to the surface until both find the strength to somehow give a new start to their lives. This beautiful novel is moving, unforgettable, and full of surprises. The reader turns the last page feeling that a small triumph has occurred.
About the Author
Milena Michiko Flašar was born in 1980, the daughter of a Japanese mother and an Austrian father. She lives in Vienna. I Called Him Necktie won the 2012 Austrian Alpha Literature Prize.
According to the famous Austrian author Josef Haslinger: “Milena Michiko Flašar manages to lead us in the semi-dark soul room of sadness, out of which two people see the rush of life, near but just out of reach. It is the inspired aching ease of literary language which leaves the reader in these emotional states and lets the fascinated reader see into this Ulysses of life stories.”