Kawade Shobō Shinsha
11 March 2020
Collection of stories
Rights handled by New River:
Foreign rights excl. Asia
People Who Talk to Stuffed Animals are Nice
by Ao Omae
Composed of a novella of the same title and three short stories, the collection brilliantly explores gender, friendship, romance, love, human interaction and the absence of it, and how a misogynistic society limits men as much as it limits women, which reminds us of You Know You Want This by Kristen Roupenian. In the title story 'People Who Talk to Stuffed Animals are Nice', two university students Nanamori and Mugito, appalled by the gendered roles imposed by the society to the extent that they refuse to interact with people; they turn to plushies for emotional support. Their fellow plushie society member Shiraki, on the contrary, does not talk to plushies, and accepts the status quo that boys around her sometimes make nasty jokes as she believes this resembles the real world. The characters in the other three stories are similarly frustrated by rigid gender expectations.
Written in brisk and fresh prose, Ao Omae's stories capture the subtleties and complexities of his characters' inner world while they juggle in a society that doesn't allow flexibilities. These stories, sometimes absurd, sometimes comical, and always thought-provoking, are strongly relatable to anyone who pays attention to nuances, doesn't feel at ease with traditional sex roles, and longs for a gentler and more tolerant world.
About the author
Born 1992 in Hyogo Prefecture, Ao Omae is hailed in Japan as a rising star of gender-conscious literature since the 2020 publication of People Who Talk to Stuffed Animals are Nice, which has since been adapted for film. His most recent novel is Lonely Because it's You (2022).