Before Hiroshima: The Confession Of Murayama Kazuo
\Joshua Barkan’s first collection of stories, Before Hiroshima, includes a novella and five short stories. Though only 148 pages in its entirety, Barkan’s book packs a powerful punch.
The novella, “Before Hiroshima,” tells the story of a young Japanese intelligence officer during World War II. Murayama Kazuo, torn between wanting freedom from his responsibilities and his grandfather’s stern expectations, may have the power to save Hiroshima from attack. When Kazuo links together several large bombings across the nation, introducing the possibility of a major United States bombing, Kazuo’s superior officer, Mizuoshi-san, refuses to believe the evidence. When the bombing in Hiroshima actually takes place, the two men are forced to carry the tremendous burden. The following five short stories are quick bursts of powerful fiction, and readers will most definitely want to read more. My favorite was “Shanghaied,” in which two co-workers, involved separately, find themselves sharing a hotel room on a bargain vacation to China. The most effective story, “The Warrior,” gives life to a young man recovering from a short, almost non-existent, entanglement with a disturbed young woman. Fans of short stories and those of World War II, in particular, should find a copy of Before Hiroshima. Readers will be asking for more from Barkan, who is a versatile author providing much to explore.