ABOUT THE BOOK
A prizewinning, thrillingly subversive debut novel about a woman in Japan who avoids harassment at work by perpetuating, for nine months and beyond, the lie that she’s pregnant
When thirty-four-year-old Ms. Shibata gets a new job in Tokyo to escape sexual harassment at her old one, she finds that, as the only woman at her new workplace–a company that manufactures cardboard tubes–she is expected to do all the menial tasks. One day she announces that she can’t clear away her colleagues’ dirty cups–because she’s pregnant and the smell nauseates her. The only thing is . . . Ms. Shibata is not pregnant.
Pregnant Ms. Shibata doesn’t have to serve coffee to anyone. Pregnant Ms. Shibata isn’t forced to work overtime. Pregnant Ms. Shibata rests, watches TV, takes long baths, and even joins an aerobics class for expectant mothers. But pregnant Ms. Shibata also has a nine-month ruse to keep up. Helped along by towel-stuffed shirts and a diary app on which she can log every stage of her “pregnancy,” she feels prepared to play the game for the long haul. Before long, though, the hoax becomes all-absorbing, and the boundary between her lie and her life begins to dissolve.
A surreal and wryly humorous cultural critique, Diary of a Void is bound to become a landmark in feminist world literature.
PUBLISHED BY VIKING
Drawn in by the cover, I knew nothing of this book before I bought it but have found it to be a wonderfully quirky and absorbing little read on the roles of women and the feeling of loneliness in trying to ‘fit in’ and be accepted in a society that places labels on people.
Shibata is at the heart of the story – the only female in an office and that means she’s expected to carry out all the menial tasks no matter what she has on her plate. But that changes when she takes a bold step in pretending she’s pregnant. Immediately the male attitudes towards her change and more care is taken to spread the tasks round – the lengths you have to go to for some respect and courtesy eh!
As she envelops herself in her ‘role’ you get to see the other side of her life, one that is quite regimented and looking for acceptance. She feels part of the ‘mummies to be’ brigade and finally feels less invisible. It’s such a quirky concept that the lines are blurred often as to whether she is pregnant or not, but it really just adds to the charm of this book and gives you that wider look at society and how women have to fit certain criteria before they are even seen…
I loved this book and the gentle way her story was told. It’s not packed full of action but it is more relatable and emotion invoking because of it’s approach.