My Name is Sei Shonagon
In a small incense shop in modern Tokyo, amid the manic consumerism of cartoon-colored Shibuya youth culture, incense is still made in the ancient way--slowly ground by hand and matured over time. Above the shop, a young woman sits behind a painted screen, listening to men unburden themselves about their work-dominated lives. She calls herself "Sei Shonagon,+? after the eleventh-century woman who wrote The Pillow Book. This exquisite first novel is a Pillow Book for the twenty-first century; its "Sei+? is a young woman who, as a child, moved to Japan from America to live with her strict, tradition-obsessed uncle after the death of her parents, an American academic and a Japanese student. As the novel opens, "Sei,+? now a young woman, lies in a hospital bed, hearing sounds around her, unable to speak except silently to herself-"I don't even know if you are still alive...I'm going to talk to you anyway, tell you everything I remember.+? Thus her story unfolds, back to a dark past and toward an unimaginable fate.