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In this witty and exuberant collection of feminist retellings of traditional Japanese folktales, humans live side by side with spirits who provide a variety of useful services—from truth-telling to babysitting, from protecting castles to fighting crime.
A busybody aunt who disapproves of hair removal; a pair of door-to-door saleswomen hawking portable lanterns; a cheerful lover who visits every night to take a luxurious bath; a silent house-caller who babysits and cleans while a single mother is out working.Where the Wild Ladies Are is populated by these and many other spirited women—who also happen to be ghosts. This is a realm in which jealousy, stubbornness, and other excessive “feminine” passions are not to be feared or suppressed, but rather cultivated; and, chances are, a man named Mr. Tei will notice your talents and recruit you, dead or alive (preferably dead), to join his mysterious company.
In this witty and exuberant collection of linked stories, Aoko Matsuda takes the rich, millenia-old tradition of Japanese folktales—shapeshifting wives and foxes, magical trees and wells—and wholly reinvents them, presenting a world in which humans are consoled, guided, challenged, and transformed by the only sometimes visible forces that surround them.
BBC Culture, One of the Best Books of the Year
“These ghosts are not the monstrous, vengeful spirits of the original stories; they are real people with agency and personalities, finally freed from the restraints placed on living women. Funny, beautiful, surreal and relatable, this is a phenomenal book.” —Claire Kohda Hazleton, The Guardian
Translating Women, 1 of 20 Books to Watch Out for This Year
“Taking a collection of traditional Japanese ghost stories and crafting them into often humorous yet painfully relevant tales is a move of pure genius by Aoko Matsuda. Taking place in a contemporary setting, with a decidedly feminist bend, Where the Wild Ladies Are takes classic Japanese ghost stories—which make up some of the best in the world—and rewrite them to make them relevant to the current gender climate of modern-day Japan. Witty, biting, and poignant, Matsuda’s collection is a pleasantly haunting surprise.” —Jessica Esa, Metropolis