Dany Laferrière, Éroshima


A book composed of pieces of short fiction of varying lengths, Éroshima explores the many facets of human love and desire. The first story contains 15 chapters and a total of 150 numbered paragraphs. It tells the story of a young black man staying in the apartment of a Japanese friend and the many encounters this situation leads to. One can feel the sexual tension that is generated from the many tangled relationships and encounters in the story. Whereas one of Laferrière’s later books is called I am a Japanese Writer, in Éroshima, the black writer is making love to a Japanese woman.

Other stories bring out the tension between the life principle (Eros, love, desire) and death (Thanatos, destruction, aggression).  The first-person narrator tells of having the idea for this book from thinking about what would happen if the bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima at the very same moment a couple who making love reaches orgasm (hence, Eroshima). The story where this is explained is sprinkled with haikus and therefore has a very wistful atmosphere.

I did not find this book as enjoyable as How to Make Love With a Negro Without Getting Tired. Given the form it is written in, of course, it does not have the dramatic tension of a novel or novella, although the stories are related thematically. It does feel more like an intellectual exercise. And the reading required more discipline than I like to need to get through a book. But do not be mistaken, it is a book of interest, even if I was not blown away by it.

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