The Enlightenment of Katzuo Nakamatsu
Reminiscent of Kurasawa's film Ikiru, Enlightenment explores the interior mindscape of a Japanese-Peruvian man and his luminous unraveling
Katzuo Nakamatsu is having a recurring dream. He's strolling down the glinting avenues of Lima, branches crowning overhead, when he hears someone snickering from the shadows. He wanders away in concentric circles, as if along a spider web, and wakes in a sweaty torment. Nakamatsu sleepwalks his way toward sublime disintegration.
Katzuo is at sea after being forced out of his job as a literature professor without warning. He retreats into flânerie, musing with imaginary interlocuters, roaming the streets, and reciting the poems of Martín Adán. Slowly, to the "steady beat of his reptilian feet," Nakamatsu begins to arrange his muted ceremony of farewell. He conjures his smiling wife Keiko and wonders how he lost his Japanese community with her death. With a certain electric lunacy, he spruces himself up with a pinstripe tie, tortoiseshell glasses, and wooden cane, taking on the costume of a man he knew as a child, hoping to grasp that man's tenacious Japanese identity.
Like a logic puzzle, Enlightenment calibrates Augusto Higa Oshiro's own entangled identity. From this dark and deadly estrangement, a piercing question emerges: "Why did our hides, our Japanese eyes, our bodily humors, provoke suspicion and rejection?"
About this Author
Augusto Higa Oshiro is a Peruvian writer born to immigrants from Okinawa and raised in Lima's working-class center. In the '70s he was a member of Peru's Grupo Narración, a group of writers focused on realist, working-class fiction. He is the recipient of the Asociación Peruano Japonesa's Premio José Watanabe Varas for prose and the Cámara Peruana del Libro's Premio de Novela Breve, and has been recognized for his contributions to culture by Peru's Ministry of Culture. The Enlightenment of Katzuo Nakamatsu will be his first book translated into English.
Jennifer Shyue's translations focus on contemporary Cuban and Asian-Peruvian writers. She has an MFA in literary translation from the University of Iowa and a BA in comparative literature from Princeton University. Her work has been supported by grants from Fulbright, Princeton University, and the University of Iowa and has appeared in The Arkansas International, New England Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, and elsewhere.
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