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Extended Audio Sample The Translation of Love: A Novel, by Lynne Kutsukake Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Lynne Kutsukake Narrator: Nancy Wu Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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An emotionally gripping portrait of postwar Japan, where a newly repatriated girl must help a classmate find her missing sister

Born and raised in Vancouver, thirteen-year-old Aya Shimamura is released from a Canadian internment camp only to be repatriated to Japan with her father, who was faced with an unsettling choice: move east of the Rocky Mountains or go back to Japan. With no hope of restitution and grieving the loss of Aya’s mother during internment, her father feels there’s nothing left for them in Canada and signs a form that enables the government to deport him.

But life in Tokyo is not much better. Aya’s father struggles to find work, compromising his morals and toiling long hours. Aya, meanwhile, is something of a pariah at her school, bullied for being foreign and paralyzed when asked to communicate in Japanese. Aya’s alienation is eventually mitigated by one of her principal tormentors, a willful girl named Fumi Tanaka, whose older sister has mysteriously disappeared.

When a rumor surfaces that Douglas MacArthur, who is overseeing the Allied occupation of Japan, sometimes helps citizens in need, Fumi enlists Aya to compose a letter asking the general to find her beloved sister. The letter is delivered into the reluctant hands of Corporal Matt Matsumoto, a Japanese American serving with the Allied forces, whose endless job is translating the thousands of letters MacArthur receives each week. Matt feels an affinity toward Fumi but is largely powerless, and the girls decide to take matters into their own hands, venturing into the dark and dangerous world of Tokyo’s red-light district.

Told through rich, interlocking storylines, The Translation of Love mines a turbulent period to show how war irrevocably shapes the lives of the conquered—and yet the novel also allows for a poignant spark of resilience, friendship, and love that translates across cultures and borders to stunning effect.

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Quotes & Awards

  • The Translation of Love is a rarity: a haunting mystery that is also a moving coming-of-age story.”

    Chris Bohjalian, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Kutsukake…conjures the voices of this agonized time with graceful simplicity…The story is satisfying but secondary to the mood: the quiet ache of loss.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Teaches little known history, pulls at the heart strings, questions authority, and—of course—tells a spellbinding, magnificent story…Presents resonating testimony to humanity’s resilience.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “Many scenes pack an emotional punch and are enhanced by the author’s clarity and restraint…Offers rich insights into an underreported period in history.”

    Globe and Mail (Toronto)

  • “Richly researched and deeply moving—a beautiful debut.”

    Toronto Star

  • "[A] dazzling debut…a commanding story about identity, redemption, and healing that’s not to be missed.”


  • “Kutsukake is an accomplished writer, adroitly handling the dark effects of discrimination, hunger, poverty, and disease after the war…an engaging and compelling read.”

    Asian Review of Books

  • ”[A] heady blend of detailed historical research and compelling storytelling.”

    Japan Times

  • “Offers a fresh perspective on life in postwar Japan.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “A vivid and memorable account of ordinary people struggling to recover from the devastations of war.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Inspired by the avalanche of letters sent to General Douglas MacArthur by the people of Japan, Kutsukake crafts a vivid and illuminating portrait of life during the postwar Occupation.”


  • “Brings American-occupied postwar Tokyo to life…Kutsukake’s novel is classic historical fiction at its best.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “A memorable story of hope and loneliness with a cathartic ending.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Nancy Wu delivers this story of friendship and love in a melodic voice…As Wu’s steady performance drives the story to its conclusion, she differentiates characters with subtle shifts in tone. Overall, Wu’s voice acts as a beacon that directs listeners through the tangle of Japanese customs and code of honor.”


  • A BookPage Top Pick for April 2016
  • A New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice
  • A School Library Journal Top Pick for Diverse Debuts and Adult Books for Teens
  • A Historical Novels Review Editors’ Choice
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