Spring 2023 • Vol. XLV No. 2 Translation Folio |

Tumbleweed

The Kenyon Review · "Tumbleweed" by Ao Omae (translated by Emily Balistrieri) In the sleepy West, a run-down bar is turning sepia colored. In front of it, two men turn their backs to each other and begin walking. One step, another — they silently take their distance. Time audibly stops. Sweat drips down a forehead. With the sound of their breath, the two men whirl around — drawing the guns at their hips — and shoot. A moment later, one of them turns back and walks off into the desert. The gunman left behind stands stock still, but a few seconds later his knees crumple, and he falls to the ground. A hot, dry wind blows, and one of those tangled spheres of dead grass so familiar in Westerns — me — goes futilely rolling along. Cut to the victor walking off into the shimmering sunset. Fade to black. The credits roll. My name is there. That was the end of this week’s Fury in the West. I wanted to get to the wrap party as soon as possible and soak in

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Ao Omae was born in 1992, in Hyogo Prefecture. Hailed in Japan as a rising star of gender-conscious literature since the publication in 2020 of People Who Talk to Stuffed Animals Are Nice, he debuted in 2016 with a short story that was eventually included in the 2018 collection Kaitengusa, of which “Tumbleweed” is the titular story. Other titles by Ao include Watashi to wani to imōto no heya (A room for a crocodile, my sister, and me), Omoroi igai irannen (Only the funny stuff), and Marumi-chan to Usagi-kun (Marumi and Usagi).

Photo of Emily Balistrieri

Emily Balistrieri was born in 1985, in the United States, and is now based in Japan. His translations include Tomihiko Morimi’s The Tatami Galaxy (HarperVia, 2022), Eiko Kadono’s Kiki’s Delivery Service (Delacorte Press, 2020), and Shaw Kuzki’s Soul Lanterns (Yearling, 2021). Most recently he translated Ao Omae’s People Who Talk to Stuffed Animals Are Nice (HarperVia, 2023).

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The Kenyon Review · "Tumbleweed" by Ao Omae (translated by Emily Balistrieri) In the sleepy West, a run-down bar is turning sepia colored. In front of it, two men turn […]

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