[Review] The Thorn Puller by Hiromi Ito

3 Things About This Book
| Semi-Autobiographic Fiction | Seamlessly Blends Voices from Various Texts | Explores Life & Death, Religion & Cultural Differences, Societal Expectations and More |

The Thorn Puller by Hiromi Ito
Published: 2022 by Stone Bridge Press
Genre(s): Asian Literature, Fiction, Semi-Autobiographical
Book Depository

The Thorn Puller is an intimate and personal semi-autobiographical novel that centres around life, death, religion, motherhood, cultural differences and more. It is told from the perspective of a mother, wife, daughter and poet who travels constantly between California where her husband and children reside and Kumamoto to care for her ageing parents. Ito also seamlessly shifts between poetry to prose, and blends in multiple voices from various texts. This creates this atmosphere where her thoughts and opinions transcend the limitations of time and her own being, forming an intrinsic understanding of how others—no matter who, where and which era they live in—have felt and thought the same too. 

Nevertheless, I feel distant from these episodic-like chapters—maybe because I’ve not experienced the same experiences/have not reached the stage of life where Ito is/was when she wrote this book. As a result, there’s a limit to how much I can empathise with, despite not having difficulty understanding or seeing where the narrator comes from.

Still, this book remains thought-provoking and meaningful. I really liked how prominent the narrator’s hope and belief in Jizo is throughout the book too. Every mention of him is a like a prayer for the deity to intervene and help pull out the thorns of suffering from the narrator and the people around her.

About the Author

Hiromi Ito came to national attention in Japan in the 1980s for her groundbreaking poetry about pregnancy, childbirth, and female sexuality. After relocating to the U.S. in the 1990s, she began to write about the immigrant experience and biculturalism. In recent years, she has focused on the ways that dying and death shape human experience.

About the Translator

Jeffrey Angles is a writer and professor of Japanese at Western Michigan University. He is the first non-native poet writing in Japanese to win the Yomiuri Prize for Literature, a highly coveted prize for poetry. His translation of the modernist classic The Book of the Dead by Shinobu Orikuchi won both the Miyoshi Award and the Scaglione Prize for translation.

Thank you so much Stone Bridge Press for sending me a copy of this in exchange for an honest review! The Thorn Puller by Hiromi Ito is available at all good bookstores.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s