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Fault Lines: Shortlisted for the 2021 Costa First Novel Award

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Fault Lines is full of laugh-out-loud, irreverent humor, as well as heartstoppingly poignant, yet seemingly incidental, wisdom. Which makes this a sadder story and more of a character study, as we are forced to look at the situation with a more holistic eye. I loved visualising the city, which I could clearly because of the authors writing style, this is a beautiful debut, add it to your TBR! For me it's the strong sense of place and Japanese culture that makes this short novel a worthy addition to the never-ending body of fiction on marital and domestic dissatisfaction. I thought it was poignant how the calmness and dullness of the life she leads at home is contrasted with the vibrancy and cacophony of colours, sights and sounds she is met with when she and Kiyoshi are together.

In Fault Lines, Rajan demonstrates how unequal access to education and health care in the United States puts us all in deeper financial peril, even as the economic choices of countries like Germany, Japan, and China place an undue burden on America to get its policies right. The plot is simple, to the point where – despite the author’s evident enviable command of language – it hardly stretches to a book of this length.It’s everything a woman could want, yet sometimes she wonders whether it would be more fun to throw herself off the high-rise balcony than spend another evening not talking to her husband or hanging up laundry. I am still pondering over the title, ‘Fault Lines’, is it a reference to the numerous earthquakes that rock Japan almost daily, or is it referring to her marriage and the lines that have begun to appear? I love the voice of the narrator, Lydia Wilson and, even though she has a British accent, the picture of a Japanese woman was clear in my mind. Mother daughter issues, sister issues, husband wife issues, extramarital affairs…it was endless and quite unbelievable.

It is filled with real examples and practical wisdom, but perhaps most of all, every page is filled with hope. All of the inner yearnings and tribulations of Mizuki are laid bare, offering one of the fullest, most thorough depictions of a character I have ever read. There really is no “plot”, rather this is just a glimpse into a short period of time where a woman contemplates her life, her marriage, and her role as a mother.An affair ensues, and Kiyoshi re-opens an electrifying world of late nights and new experiences Mizuki thought was behind her forever. Emily Itami was able to put together a rollercoaster of emotions and the reader just needs to enjoy the ride. Fault Lines is a romantic story full of wit and charm, lovingly exposing the cracks in each of its characters' facades.

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