WEASELS IN THE ATTIC by Hiroko Oyamada
Translated by David Boyd
Echoes of Abe and even Kafka on nitrous rattled through Hiroko Oyamada’s first two novels to be translated into English. Both The Hole and The Factory were that fun kind of weird that sucks you in but doesn’t ask too much of you other than submission to an off-kilter world. Weasels In The Attic, a novella in three episodes, seems a much more grounded affair, with what I’d taken to be Oyamada’s signature weirdness generally absent, but for the almost wacky conceits that frame each of its parts.
The story of two couples navigating early married life, with all the usual euphoric highs, societal pressures and personal disappointments, Weasels In The Attic circles around common issues (most notably fertility) with increasingly odd metaphoric allusions - the breeding of rare tropical fish, an infestation of weasels in the roof of a holiday house, unsettling dreams that feature both creatures. I was wholly entranced by the first two parts, but couldn’t help but feel let down by the loose tying of strings in the third. In that sense, it didn’t differ much from Oyamada’s other two books. Fun, a bit weird, but ultimately kind of lacking.
Weasels In The Attic by Hiroko Oyamada (Tr. David Boyd)