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3.5 

Diary of a Void

By Emi Yagi & David Boyd &
Diary of a Void by Emi Yagi & David Boyd &  digital book - Fable

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Publisher Description

A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New Yorker · NPR · WBEZ’s Nerdette · The New York Public Library · Literary Hub

A New York Times Editors’ Choice

“One of the most passionate cases I’ve ever read for female interiority, for women’s creative pulse and rich inner life.” ―Katy Waldman, The New Yorker

“Always expect the unexpected when you’re not expecting.” ―Sloane Crosley

A woman in Tokyo avoids harassment at work by perpetuating, for nine months and beyond, the lie that she’s pregnant in this prizewinning, thrillingly subversive debut novel about the mother of all deceptions, for fans of Convenience Store Woman and Breasts and Eggs


When thirty-four-year-old Ms. Shibata gets a new job to escape sexual harassment at her old one, she finds that as the only woman at her new workplace—a manufacturer of cardboard tubes—she is expected to do all the menial tasks. One day she announces that she can’t clear away her coworkers’ dirty cups—because she’s pregnant and the smell nauseates her. The only thing is . . . Ms. Shibata is not pregnant.

Pregnant Ms. Shibata doesn’t have to serve coffee to anyone. Pregnant Ms. Shibata isn’t forced to work overtime. Pregnant Ms. Shibata watches TV, takes long baths, and even joins an aerobics class for expectant mothers. She’s living a year of rest and relaxation, and is finally being treated by her colleagues as more than a hollow core. But she has a ruse to keep up. Before long, it becomes all-absorbing, and with the help of towel-stuffed shirts and a diary app that tracks every stage of her “pregnancy,” the boundary between her lie and her life begins to dissolve.

Surreal and absurdist, and with a winning matter-of-factness, a light touch, and a refreshing sensitivity to mental health, Diary of a Void will keep you turning the pages to see just how far Ms. Shibata will carry her deception for the sake of women, and especially working mothers, everywhere.

363 Reviews

3.5
Surprised Face with Open Mouth
Believable charactersCharacters change and growMulti-layered charactersBeautifully writtenFunny writingUnpredictableImmersive settingComicalDark
Believable charactersCharacters change and growMulti-layered charactersEasy to readUnpredictableRealistic settingThought-provokingMisogynyUnsatisfying plot
Thinking Face“For the most part I am confused about the ending. It feels like I don't know exactly what happened at the end which hinders the credibility of the plot. Overall, the writing was original and that was enjoyable. I mean, who knew that in order to get men to make coffee at work, all you had to do was to get pregnant!?”
Multi-layered charactersBeautifully writtenOriginal writingUnpredictableThought-provokingMisogynyUnsatisfying ending

About Emi Yagi

Emi Yagi is an editor at a Japanese women’s magazine. She was born in 1988 and lives in Tokyo. Diary of a Void is her first novel; it won the Dazai Osamu Prize, awarded annually to the best debut work of fiction.

David Boyd (translator) has twice won the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature. He has translated fiction by Mieko Kawakami, Izumi Suzuki, and Hiroko Oyamada, among others. He is an assistant professor of Japanese at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Lucy North (translator) is the translator of The Woman in the Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura as well as fiction and nonfiction by over half a dozen other modern and contemporary Japanese writers, including Taeko Kono, Fumiko Enchi, Hiroko Oyamada, and Hiromi Kawakami. Her fiction translations have appeared in Granta, Words Without Borders, and The Southern Review, as well as in The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories, The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature, and Found in Translation: 100 of the Finest Short Stories Ever Translated.

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