Hut of Fallen Persimmons
by Adriana Lisboa

Texas Tech University Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0-896-72721-2.
Reviewed by Doris Anne Roop-Benner
Posted on 01/31/2012

Fiction: Literary

Hut of Fallen Persimmons is like a beautiful poem that flows with interesting people—Haruki, Yukiko, Celina, Marco, Alice, and Basho. Gagaku, which in Japanese means elegant, correct, or refined music, seems like the style that should accompany this narrative.

The author, Lisboa, reminds us that life is a path and not a fixed point in space, and we are like the passage of the days, the months, and the years, as the Japanese poet Matsuo Basho wrote in his travel diary. He says there is one thing we do indeed possess—perhaps our only asset—our capacity of locomotion and our penchant for traveling.

This story is filled with travelers.

Basho once stayed at the home of Kyorai in Kyoto, Japan. Legend has it that Kyorai had close to forty persimmon trees in his garden. He agreed to sell the persimmons one autumn when the trees were heavily laden with fruit, but the evening before he was to deliver them, a violent storm hit and there was not a single persimmon left. From that day forward Kyorai referred to his house as Rakushisha: the Hut of Fallen Persimmons.

When we meet the other characters their stories are woven together through the pursuit of the haiku Basho wrote on his travels.

Is the passage that we make through one another's lives only the passage of travelers? I wonder if life is, perhaps, made of only chance encounters like Haruki and Yukiko, Haruki and Celina, and Celina and Marco. Fleeting rare moments!

These characters wondered if the purpose of their journey was the journey itself. But there was always an "and if" that hung in the air like a wind chime and beckoned them to put one foot in front of the other. They set small goals and kept putting one foot in front of the other. Wherever their feet were at the moment, there would be their soul.

Marco told Celina "pretty is something physical, cute is something that's endearing that's said or done, but beautiful is because the inside and the outside have come together". Hut of Fallen Persimmons is beautiful and should be read with the eye of a traveler exploring new places.

The author of ten widely translated works of fiction, including five novels, a collection of short stories, and works for children, Brazilian author Adriana Lisboa won the Jose Saramago Prize in 2003 for Sinfonia em branco (Symphony in White), among other awards. Born in Rio de Janeiro, she lived in France and currently resides in Colorado. Visit her website.

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