Who Is Izumi Suzuki? The Japanese Icon's Work Will Finally Be Published in English

Verso Books will be publishing Japanese sci-fi author Izumi Suzuki's work in English for the first time in 2021.

The short story collection, dubbed Terminal Boredom, will be released on April 20 from Verso Books. Another volume titled Love < Death will follow in 2022. Polly Barton, Sam Bett, David Boyd, Daniel Joseph, Aiko Masubuchi and Helen O'Horan are the translators for the upcoming releases.

In a statement received by Newsweek, Verso fiction editor Cian McCourt said that given the late author's legacy, it was surprising that it's taken so long for her books to be translated and published in English. "At first I was bemused by how Suzuki's work could have remained unavailable in English till now, but once I read her stories that turned to wonderment; this is a unique collection of fiction from a singularly fascinating writer," he said.

The short synopses of the seven stories included in the collection certainly touch on themes that are familiar to any voracious sci-fi fan in 2020, such as gender issues and the danger of attachments to technology. "In these darkly playful and punky stories, the fantastical elements are always earthed by the universal pettiness of strife between the sexes, and the gritty reality of life on the lower rungs, whatever planet that ladder might be on," the book's description says.

According to a press release explaining each story, one piece is set in "queer matriarchal utopia," which is disturbed by a boy escaping from isolation. The titular story takes place in a society with "enforced screen-time and the mechanisation of labour," leading to disaffected children in Tokyo.

McCourt said in a statement that he was inspired to dive deeper into Suzuki's work—which he described as "pitch-black and punky pleasures"—after a friend tipped him off to the author. "When a friend doing post-graduate work found a short snippet about Izumi Suzuki's fiction in a footnote and sent it my way, I was intrigued enough to do some digging. My early enthusiasm was bolstered when a reader's report arrived full of notes such as 'argumentative pyjama scenes abound' and 'the subtle wordplay suggests Gertrude Stein at her most playful,'" he said.

Suzuki began her career as an actress and model. The counterculture icon has long been a staple of Japanese science fiction, penning a number of essays, short stories and novels, after her ex-husband and father to her daughter, jazz musician Karou Abe, died from an overdose. Abe and Suzuki were the subject of Koji Wakamatsu's 1995 biopic Endless Waltz (which was titled Endoresu warutsu in Japan). Suzuki died by suicide in 1986.

Izumi Suzuki
"Terminal Boredom" will be released on April 20, 2021, marking Suzuki's English language debut. Courtesy of Verso Books
Who Is Izumi Suzuki? The Japanese Icon's Work Will Finally Be Published in English | Culture