In this collection of three deeply bizarre yet comedic novellas, translated by Giles Murray, Yo Hemmi delicately interweaves delightful commentary with narratives contemplating the interconnectedness of life. The title story recounts the narrator’s relationship with a beautiful young woman who suffers from a mysterious condition that causes her body to fill with water, and only performing shameful acts, like shoplifting imported cheeses or making love, allows the water to be released. But as summer wanes into fall and the waters run dry, their relationship develops a divergent sense of urgency that neither of them could have expected.
Imbued with the same magic and mystery, the other novellas follow two narrators’ extraordinary encounters with passing strangers. In “Night Caravan,” the narrator embarks on a midnight journey in the company of two Vietnamese prostitutes and their pimp. Faced with fear, regret, and a bad case of crabs, they make their way through the night, blinking numbly at any light that dares shine down upon them. Meanwhile, “Piano Wire” tells the story of how one family’s struggle with cleanliness and order is radically changed when a mysterious teacher shows up on their doorstep.