2 December 2020
Chikuma Shobō and The English Agency (Japan)
Rights sold by New River:
France (Robert Laffont),
Germany (Hoffmann und Campe),
North America (Penguin Books),
UK&Comm ex Canada (Harvill Secker)
Diary of a Void
by Emi Yagi
Thirty-four-year-old Ms. Shibata works in a company in Tokyo. Her job is relatively secure: she is a permanent employee, and the company is more comfortable than her previous workplace where she was made the object of sexual harassment from clients and colleagues. But this job ––at a company manufacturing cardboard tubes and paper cores––involves working overtime almost every day. Most annoyingly, as the only woman, she finds that there is an unspoken expectation, based on her gender, to see to all the menial chores: serving coffee, cleaning the kitchenette, unpacking and serving the comestibles delivered to the company as gifts, sorting and distributing the New Year’s cards, remedying the trash-cans . . .
One day, sick of this state of affairs, Shibata announces she can’t clear away her colleagues’ dirty cups because she is pregnant.
This is a lie, but is accepted at face value by the company, and brings results: a sudden change in the way she is treated. Immediately a new 'life' begins . . .
Written in the diary form, the novel is an ironic and playful reference to the Japanese 'Maternal and Child Health Handbook' (母子手帳), a notebook issued to expectant mothers in Japan to note down all the details of the pregnancy and motherhood until the child is six years old. At once hilarious and thought-provoking, Shibata's diary of her fake pregnancy not only reveals all the patriarchal aspects of maternity and pregnancy but also negotiates the truth of 'conception'
on many levels.
About the author
Emi Yagi (1988-) is currently a corporate employee. Diary of a Void is her first novel, and it won the 36th Dazai Osamu Prize, awarded annually to debut writers.