Fog Island Mountains

Fog Island Mountains

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What if you could rewrite a tragedy? What if you could give grace to someone s greatest mistake? Huddled beneath the volcanoes of the Kirishima mountain range in southern Japan, also called the Fog Island Mountains, the inhabitants of small town Komachi are waiting for the biggest of the summer's typhoons. South African expatriate Alec Chester has lived in Komachi for nearly forty years. Alec considers himself an ordinary man, with common troubles and mundane achievements until his doctor gives him a terminal cancer diagnosis and his wife, Kanae, disappears into the gathering storm. Kanae flees from the terrifying reality of Alec's diagnosis, even going so far as to tell a childhood friend that she is already a widow. Her willful avoidance of the truth leads her to commit a grave infidelity, and only when Alec is suspected of checking himself out of the hospital to commit a quiet suicide does Kanae come home to face what it will mean to lose her husband. Narrating this story is Azami, one of Komachi's oldest and most peculiar inhabitants, the daughter of a famous storyteller with a mysterious story of her own. A haunting and beautiful reinterpretation of the Japanese kitsune folktale tradition, Fog Island Mountains is a novel about the dangers of action taken in grief and of a belief in healing through storytelling.

Fog Island Mountains is the winner of the Christopher Doheny Award, which recognizes excellence in fiction or nonfiction on the topic of serious illness by a writer who has personally dealt or is dealing with life-threatening illness (either his or her own or that of a close relative or friend). The judges for the 2013 Christopher Doheny Award included acclaimed authors Dani Shapiro, Meghan O'Rourke, and Ann Hood.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 176 pages
  • 140 x 216 x 10mm | 231g
  • English
  • Illustrations, black and white
  • 1732882509
  • 9781732882508
  • 2,172,198

Review quote

"In Fog Island Mountains Michelle Bailat-Jones takes us on a journey to a remote place, alluring with beauty but also, at times, stark in its proximity to death. Using the poetic tools of a native storyteller, she negotiates the transitions from beauty to sorrow in a gentle, evocative way that urges the reader forward through the landscape of Japan and of the human heart. Fog Island Mountains is an unusual, brave book, refreshingly honest and beautifully written." - Alison Anderson, author of THE SUMMER GUEST

"Transporting and lyrical, Fog Island Mountains takes a poignant look into a couple's struggle with terminal illness, and uncovers the sustaining presence of memory, myth, and history in a small Japanese community. Narrated by the all-knowing local storyteller, who provides a perceptive communal voice, Bailat-Jones's novel is part poem, part suspense story, propelled by the violence of a summer typhoon, the complications of the characters' grief, and spare, elegiac prose that weaves its own urgent spell." - Karen Brown, author of THE LONGINGS OF WAYWARD GIRLS

"With Fog Island Mountains, Michelle Bailat-Jones has given us a remarkable and memorable debut. Her beautiful and elegantly crafted novel has the breadth of a whole world, yet it reads with the urgency and precision of a finely tuned short story. I was deeply moved by this tale of grief, and I was caught up in all its weather - its wind and rain as well as its many whirling currents of emotion." - Frederick Reiken, author of DAY FOR NIGHT

"In Fog Island Mountains, Michelle Bailat-Jones draws an exquisite unforgettable portrait of a typhoon descending upon a tiny Japanese village but also of the storm in the hearts of those who love and are certain to lose." - Anne Korkeakivi, author of THE SHINING SEA

"Fog Island Mountains is a fearless first novel, and its readers, no doubt, eagerly await the stories that Michelle Bailat-Jones turns to next." - The Critical Flame

"Succinctly, Fog Island Mountains is a story told from a storyteller's perspective--a folktale with a bird's eye view. Its analysis of human weakness in the face of unexpected tragedy consistently shocks and surprises, but always, always garners empathy for the characters. This is a book full of moments that make you consider how you would react if placed in similar scenarios. It's a work that encourages deep introspection--perhaps that's why it still lingers in my mind." - The Coal Hill Review
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