Two Lines Press
All Books >
Additional Information
ISBN: 9781949641035
Pages: 160
Size: 5 x 8
Publication Date: June 9, 2020
Distributed By: Publishers Group West

Echo on the Bay

by Masatsugu Ono
Translated from Japanese by
Angus Turvill

Winner of the Mishima Prize

“Cross García Márquez and Simenon and set the piece on the Sea of Japan, and you’ll have a feel for Ono’s latest… Fans of Kenzaburo Oe’s Death by Water and Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 will enjoy Ono’s enigmatic story.” —Kirkus (starred review)

“A masterpiece, reverberating with waves of history and life. Echo on the Bay cuts to the heart of class, place, and nation like no other book I’ve read.” —Kent Wascom, author of The New Inheritors

All societies, whether big or small, try to hide their wounds away. In this, his Mishima Prize-winning masterpiece, Masatsugu Ono considers a fishing village on the Japanese coast. Here a new police chief plays audience for the locals, who routinely approach him with bottles of liquor and stories to tell. As the city council election approaches, and as tongues are loosened by drink, evidence of rampant corruption piles up—and a long-held feud between the village’s captains of industry, two brothers-in-law, threatens to boil over.

Meanwhile, just out of frame, the chief’s teenage daughter is listening, slowly piecing the locals’ accounts together, reading into their words and poring over the silence they leave behind. As accounts of horrific violence—including a dangerous attempt to save some indentured Korean coal mine workers from the Japanese military police and the fate of a group of Chinese refugees—steadily come into focus, she sets out for the Bay, where the tide has recently turned red and an ominous boat from the past has suddenly reappeared.

Populated by an infectious cast of characters that includes a solemn drunk with a burden to bear; a scarred woman constantly tormented by the local kids’ fireworks; a lone communist; and the “Silica Four,” a group of out-of-work men who love to gossip—Echo on the Bay is a quiet, masterful epic in village miniature. Proof again that there are no small stories—and that History’s untreated wounds, no matter how well hidden, fester, always threatening to resurface.


“Ono undercuts almost every expectation you may haveEcho on the Bay is an engrossing and, at times bizarre, novel, but its true power is that through all of the disorientation and dislocation, at the center of the story lie acutely familiar sins.” —Asymptote

“[Ono] is a master storyteller…Echo on the Bay is a masterclass in defamiliarization and dislocation, in rendering reality, truly, powerfully bizarre.” —The Japan Times

“Cross García Márquez and Simenon and set the piece on the Sea of Japan, and you’ll have a feel for Ono’s latest… Fans of Kenzaburo Oe’s Death by Water and Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 will enjoy Ono’s enigmatic story.”Kirkus (starred review)

“[A] slim, albeit mighty, narrative that begins comically wry and ends with shocking resonance… Understated, yet unforgettably stunning.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Understated, yet unforgettably stunning.” Library Journal, “Best World Literature 2020”

“Deliriously captivating…Ono suggests that any possible redemption must come from an acknowledgment of history.” Publishers Weekly

“The ‘echo’ on the bay is the reverberation of [the village’s] history—and I’m guessing the Japanese response to the novel, and the lavishing of praise and prizes that followed, have much to do with Japan’s relief at finding a form for its unresolved anxieties and guilt.” —Ron Slate, On the Seawall

“A masterpiece, reverberating with waves of history and life. Echo on the Bay cuts to the heart of class, place, and nation like no other book I’ve read.” —Kent Wascom, author of The New Inheritors

“An intimate, dark, and poetic portrait of a Japan that isn’t part of mainstream society, Ono demands we look carefully at how people living in a small fishing village are affected by global events. Like an anthropologist, Masatsugu Ono demonstrates his encyclopedic knowledge of a world he loves and cares for. This powerful and lyrical novel should be read by everyone.” —Xiaolu Guo, National Book Critics Circle award-winning author of Nine Continents: A Memoir In and Out of China

“A roiling, contemplative cauldron of rumor and happenstance, small town folklore intermingling with curious occurrences. Echo on the Bay cements Masatsugu Ono as a master storyteller.” —Justin Walls, Powell’s (Portland, OR)

“Melancholy, humorous, and haunting; Echo on the Bay is a vivid portrayal of community and the big and small ways history has the tendency to repeat itself.” —Caleb Masters, Bookmarks (Winston-Salem, NC)

Echo on the Bay is an intricately folding story of the untold and the unknown, which unfolds in revelations, both delicate and abrupt. Ono unveils the beauty and horror of humanity through the people in a small fishing village, how they treat one another alongside how they handle what history and their current lives leave at their doorsteps… Deceptive in its brevity, honest in the cover art.” —Carrie Koepke, Skylark Bookshop (Columbia, MO)

“A moving piece of work.” —Suzanna Hermans, Oblong Books & Music (Rhinebeck, NY)

Praise for Masatsugu Ono and Lion Cross Point:

“…Ono, who won the Akutagawa Prize, Japan’s most prestigious award for emerging fiction writers, is so skilled at conveying emotion that Takeru and his world are mesmerizing, and often heart-rending.” The New Yorker

“A mesmeric fusion of fable, ghost story and haunting depiction of family trauma. . . . It’s the shifting relationship between Takeru’s shameful memories of what transpired and his gradual adjustment to the kindhearted people and landscapes of his mysterious new surroundings that makes the novel both unsettling and quietly moving.” San Francisco Chronicle

“Lion Cross Point is a MASTERPIECE. Just finished it. It is too beautiful; hard to imagine that much depth of emotion is possible in 120 pages.” ―Sara Balabanlilar, Brazos Bookstore

“Ono uses minimalist language and metaphor to create a gentle yet powerful rendering of the inner turmoil of a boy struggling to comprehend acts of kindness and violence.” Publishers Weekly

“Masatsugu Ono’s Lion Cross Point pulls off a number of narrative elements that I admire in fiction. . . . A moving and (literally) haunting novel.” ―Tobias Carroll, Literary Hub

“This is a book of the first order. A haunting mystery, it is about parents and children, about war and peace. Surely this book means that Masatsugu Ono belongs in the first ranks of not just Japanese literature but world literature.” —Akhil Sharma, author of Family Life

“Masatsugu Ono’s lucid, spare novel explores the question: What is finally more mysterious than family? It is not the unraveling of a mystery, but the tangible evocation of mystery itself as it rises from anecdotes and intuitions, from the layering of the innuendos of memory with the overtones and undertones of dream and seascape, that distinguishes this hauntingly written and beautifully translated book.” —Stuart Dybek, author of The Coast of Chicago

“Masatsugu Ono, one of the most important Japanese novelists of the post-Murakami generation, has created a lyrical, psychologically astute novel that will only whet international appetites for more of his work.” —Jeffrey Angles, 2017 Yomiuri Prize recipient

Masatsugu Ono is the author of numerous novels, including Mizu ni umoreru haka (The Water-Covered Grave), which won the Asahi Award for New Writers, and Nigiyakana wan ni seowareta fune (Boat on a Choppy Bay), which won the Mishima Prize. A prolific translator from the French—including works by Èdouard Glissant and Marie NDiaye—Ono received the Akutagawa Prize, Japan’s highest literary honor, in 2015. He lives in Tokyo.
Angus Turvill was a winner of the grand prize in the Shizuoka International Translation Competition, and he has received John Dryden and Kurodahan translation awards. His translations include Tales from a Mountain Cave, by the great humorist and anti-militarist Hisashi Inoue, and Heaven's Wind, a bilingual collection of stories by some of Japan's finest contemporary women writers.

“Was it really a deer?”


“The thing you hit. Was it really a deer?”

I didn’t know what he meant. Dad looked confused. He didn’t seem to know what to say. “Were you watching?” he said eventually.

Mitsugu didn’t speak right away. His gaze was still fixed on Dad. Something stirred in his dull eyes, but it couldn’t gather enough force to break free. It stayed where it was, shifting uncertainly.

“Toshiko-bā always says she wants to die,” Mitsugu murmured, forcing each word out painfully. “‘I wanna die, I wanna die!’ she says.”

Again, Dad didn’t seem to know how to respond. Why were they suddenly talking about Toshiko-bā? “Has something happened to her?” Dad said dubiously.

“She’s always sayin’ she wants to die… You sure it wasn’t her on the road, shenshei? Wasn’t she lyin’ on the road like before?” He paused breathlessly between each question. “Was it really a deer you hit, shenshei? Or was it Toshiko-bā?”

“Yamamoto said something about someone lying in the road, didn’t he?” said Dad, glancing toward me, standing in the kitchen.

When Mr. Yamamoto was the policeman here, someone had come knocking on his door early one morning. It was a young truck driver from Marugi Fisheries. He told Mr. Yamamoto that there was an old woman lying on the road and he couldn’t get his truck around her. He wanted Mr. Yamamoto to do something about it. The truck driver had tried his best to get her to move, but she simply wouldn’t. It was all very strange. If it had been a drunk, then maybe it wouldn’t have seemed so odd, but it was an old woman. There weren’t even any houses nearby. It was such a peculiar situation that the driver couldn’t bring himself to pull her off the road, but no matter what he said to her, she just lay there, stock-still, eyes closed. He’d begun to worry that he might have hit her somehow without noticing. But then, to his relief, he noticed some faint movement in her throat. Seeing that she was alive, he turned his truck around and went to Mr. Yamamoto’s house for help.

Mr. Yamamoto told Dad that the driver had described the old woman’s face as rough and craggy. Mr. Yamamoto went back with the driver, but when they got to where he’d seen her, there was nobody there. No sign of her at all.

“The driver looked stunned,” Mr. Yamamoto said. “As though he’d been tricked by a spirit. ‘I saw her right there,’ he’d said, pointing at the road. Maybe I should have checked if he’d been driving drunk,” he laughed, “Anyway, it’s a strange place.” He tapped Dad on the shoulder. “Be careful you don’t get tricked by any spirits while you’re there.”

Dad was looking at me.

“I wonder if that old woman was Toshiko-bā.”

Of course, I didn’t know.