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This shocking, boisterous novel was a runaway bestseller and award winner in the Japan: “Pressingly real . . . In these pages, you will find the lives of all of us” (Japan Times).

Searingly honest and sexually explicit, So We Look to the Sky is a novel told in five linked stories that begin with an affair between a student and a woman ten years his senior, who picks him up for cosplay sex in a comics market. Their scandalous liaison, which the woman's husband makes public by posting secretly taped video online, frames all of the stories, but each explores a different aspect of the life passages and hardships ordinary people face. A teenager experimenting with sex and then, perhaps, experiencing love and loss; a young, anime-obsessed wife bullied by her mother-in-law to produce the child she and her husband cannot conceive; a high-school girl, spurned by the student, realizing that being cute and fertile is all others expect of her; the student's best friend, who lives in the projects and is left alone to support and care for his voracious, senile grandmother; and the student's mother, a divorced single parent and midwife, who guides women bringing new life into this world and must rescue her son, crushed by the twin blows of public humiliation and loss, from giving up on his own.

Narrating each story in the distinctive voice of its protagonist, Misumi Kubo weaves themes including family, sex, the female body, the bullying that leaves young people feeling burdened and helpless, and the roles women are assigned by society into a profoundly original novel that lingers in the mind for its affirmation of the raw, unquellable force of life.


​Winner of the Shugoro Yamamoto Prize and Book Magazine (Hon no zasshi) Book of the Year

“Pressingly real.. . . Alive with a sense of understanding of the way things really work out there in the world. One senses a message lurking within these pages that, if Japanese society wants to heal its wounds and head in a less dysfunctional direction, it needs is to reevaluate what life really means through a deeper grasp of sex. . . . In these pages you will find the lives of all of us.”—Japan Times / Shukan Asahi

“A searing and prismatic portrait of the relentless pressures of ordinary life in modern Japan.”—PEN/Heim grant awards committee

“Painting an intricate portrait of women, family, love, and friendship, So We Look to the Sky questions the nature of sexuality and indeed life itself. . . . Anzu’s feelings as she undergoes fertility treatment, depictions of birth spilling over with life force, and the sex scenes are all written with the same passion.”—Niigata Nippō
“Addressing matters as diverse as desire, infertility, bullying, reclusion, poverty, dementia care, and infidelity, the plot's twists and turns range widely, to be sure. And yet, despite the surfeit of action, the narrative never feels forced. Rather, there’s a cool assurance to the prose. Instead of journalistic excess, the book relays with great realism the wails, pangs, and sighs of those whom life’s trials and tribulations have left feeling helpless and burdened.”—Fujin Kōron

“There are no easy solutions in these stories, but they nonetheless instill in their reader a belief in the power of life.”—Nihon Keizai Shimbun

“At the heart of this story is a huge affirmation of birth and living. It’s what makes it such a joy to read.”—Author Kiyoshi Shigematsu, member of the jury for the R-18 Prize ("Stories for Women by Women") awarded to "Mikumari," the short story that became chapter 1 of So We Look to the Sky