Terminal Boredom by Izumi Suzuki
Reviewed by Nick Hubble
Verso are best known for publishing fairly weighty tomes of left-wing politics, history and theory, but in September 2019 they launched Verso Fiction: ‘a new series of uncompromisingly intelligent and beautiful books with an international focus.’ Terminal Boredom ticks all these boxes but more importantly it has an authentic edgy feel to it that is a welcome reminder of the days when spikiness and attitude were not just marketing categories but a genuine challenge to post-war consumerist complacency. While this period feel is not surprising given that the seven short stories collected here were first published in the 1970s and 1980s, it is a shock that it has taken over 35 years to translate the work of Izumi Suzuki (1949-1986) into English. I suspect that any Anglosphere publishers who might have contemplated it found the complete lack of sentiment too bleak. The overall themes are suggested by the title of the recent review of this edition in the New York Times: ‘Where Every Coupling Depends on Lies, and Men Are Aliens’. However, such themes are now commercially attractive and, more fundamentally, the context of reception has changed now. For example, while themes revolving around androgyny were countercultural in the 1970s and 1980s, the existence of nonbinary genders is now widely accepted within society and I suspect that this is the context in which Suzuki would be understood today.
Review from BSFA Review 14 - Download your copy here.