Lion Cross Point by Masatsugu Ono
Winner of the Akutagawa Prize, Japan’s most prestigious literary award
How does a shy, traumatized boy overcome the shame, anger, and sadness that silence him?
In Lion Cross Point, celebrated Japanese author Masatsugu Ono turns his gentle pen to the mind of ten-year-old Takeru, who arrives at his family’s home village amid a scorching summer, carrying memories of unspeakable acts against his mother and brother. As Takeru befriends Mitsuko, his new caretaker, and Saki, his spunky neighbor, he meets more of his mother’s old friends, discovering her history and inching toward a new idea of family and home. All the while he begins to see a strange figure called Bunji—the same name as a delicate young boy who mysteriously vanished long ago on the village’s breathtaking coastline at Lion Cross Point.
At once a subtle portrayal of a child’s sense of memory and community, an empowering exploration of how we find the words to encompass our trauma, and a spooky Japanese ghost story, Lion Cross Point is gripping and poignant, reminiscent of Kenzaburō Ōe’s best work. Acts of heartless brutality mix with surprising moments of pure kindness, creating this utterly truthful, cathartic tale of an unforgettable young boy.
“…Ono, who won the Akutagawa Prize, Japan’s most prestigious award for emerging fiction writers, is so skilled at conveying emotion that Takeru and his world are mesmerizing, and often heart-rending.” — The New Yorker
“A mesmeric fusion of fable, ghost story and haunting depiction of family trauma. . . . It’s the shifting relationship between Takeru’s shameful memories of what transpired and his gradual adjustment to the kindhearted people and landscapes of his mysterious new surroundings that makes the novel both unsettling and quietly moving.” — San Francisco Chronicle
“Lion Cross Point is a MASTERPIECE. Just finished it. It is too beautiful; hard to imagine that much depth of emotion is possible in 120 pages.” ― Sara Balabanlilar, Brazos Bookstore
“Ono uses minimalist language and metaphor to create a gentle yet powerful rendering of the inner turmoil of a boy struggling to comprehend acts of kindness and violence.” ― Publishers Weekly
“Masatsugu Ono’s Lion Cross Point pulls off a number of narrative elements that I admire in fiction. . . . A moving and (literally) haunting novel.” ― Tobias Carroll, Literary Hub
“This is a book of the first order. A haunting mystery, it is about parents and children, about war and peace. Surely this book means that Masatsugu Ono belongs in the first ranks of not just Japanese literature but world literature.” — Akhil Sharma, author of Family Life
“Masatsugu Ono’s lucid, spare novel explores the question: What is finally more mysterious than family? It is not the unraveling of a mystery, but the tangible evocation of mystery itself as it rises from anecdotes and intuitions, from the layering of the innuendos of memory with the overtones and undertones of dream and seascape, that distinguishes this hauntingly written and beautifully translated book.” — Stuart Dybek, author of The Coast of Chicago
“Masatsugu Ono’s work vibrates with the sounds of voices whose meaning has yet to be discovered. In Lion Cross Point, even those who have been deprived of their voice find their place among us.” — Yoko Tawada, author of Memoirs of a Polar Bear
“Masatsugu Ono, one of the most important Japanese novelists of the post-Murakami generation, has created a lyrical, psychologically astute novel that will only whet international appetites for more of his work.” — Jeffrey Angles, 2017 Yomiuri Prize recipient