Fracture: surviving disaster, from Hiroshima to Fukushima

Review: a portrait of a survivor through the eyes of past lovers

Andrés Neuman, came to the attention of the English-speaking world with the widely-acclaimed Traveller of the Century. Photograph: David Levenson/Getty Images

Andrés Neuman, came to the attention of the English-speaking world with the widely-acclaimed Traveller of the Century. Photograph: David Levenson/Getty Images

In Andrés Neuman’s latest novel, we meet Yoshie Watanabe, a retired electronics executive, in a Tokyo subway station one afternoon when he feels a vibration, then a tremor, before “the floor cease [s] to be a floor”. What he’s experiencing is the magnitude 9 earthquake that triggered the 2011 tsunami – the costliest natural disaster in history – and the meltdown of nuclear reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

“An earthquake fractures the present, shatters perspective, shifts memory plates,” writes Neuman.

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