Heaven - Reading Guide
Use these prompts to guide your reading of Heaven, and discover how its unflinching focus on bullying prompted public conversation about this major problem in Japan.
Told through the eyes of a 14-year-old boy subjected to relentless bullying, this is a haunting novel of the threat of violence that can stalk our teenage years. Translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd.
Instead of putting up resistance, the boy suffers in complete resignation. His sole ally is a girl classmate, similarly outcast and preyed upon by the bullies. They meet in secret to take solace in each other’s company, unaware that their relationship has not gone unnoticed by their tormentors…
Mieko Kawakami’s deceptively simple yet profound work stands as a testament to her remarkable literary talent. Here, she asks us to question the fate of the meek in a society that favours the strong, and the lengths to which even children will go in their learnt cruelty.
About the AuthorMieko Kawakami was shortlisted for the International Booker Prize in 2022. She made her literary debut as a poet in 2006, and published her first novella, My Ego, My Teeth and the World, in 2007.
About the TranslatorSam Bett is a writer and translator of Japanese who, with David Boyd, is co-translating the novels of Mieko Kawakami for Europa Editions.
Having my work translated for the English-speaking world feels like going home, the same as always, and opening the door to find all these people there: someone who feels like an old friend even though we’ve never
met— Mieko Kawakami, author of Heaven
An intense, claustrophobic novel, Heaven uses its tale of middle school bullying to enact
Nietzsche's critique of morality.— The 2022 International Booker Prize judges