Since its release in 2018, Maiko Seo’s novel Soshite, baton wa watasareta has dominated the shelves of Japanese bookstores. The green cover with a stick that looked a bit like a kokeshi doll was literally everywhere. So no one was surprised when in 2019 it won the Hon’ya Taishō (a prize of the booksellers’ collective), and then was turned into a movie.
In Soshite, baton wa watasareta, you follow teenage Yūko, who, by some twist of fate, like a baton in a relay race (which is referred to by the title of the book, which in free translation means: and the baton was passed), moves on from one guardian to another. However, her story is not that of a sad childhood – although undoubtedly unusual and full of surprising twists, Yūko’s life is full of warmth and love. The adults who take care of her (father, stepmother, her subsequent husbands) do not care about blood ties or the lack of them. They give her everything she could ever need.
If you come to like the characters of this novel (and it’s easy to do, despite their flaws and often completely unreasonable decisions), you will follow the next stages of this extraordinary race with engagement.
The book is written in a very accessible language, which should be too difficult for readers who are just reaching for their first novels in Japanese. in Tajfuny you will find an edition that, in addition to its classic green cover, also has a dedicated movie-related dust jacket.