One of our recommended books is The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina

THE PHONE BOOTH AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD


The international bestselling novel sold in 21 countries, about grief, mourning, and the joy of survival, inspired by a real phone booth in Japan with its disconnected “wind” phone, a place of pilgrimage and solace since the 2011 tsunami.

When Yui loses both her mother and her daughter in the tsunami, she begins to mark the passage of time from that date onward: Everything is relative to March 11, 2011, the day the tsunami tore Japan apart, and when grief took hold of her life. Yui struggles to continue on, alone with her pain.
Then,

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The international bestselling novel sold in 21 countries, about grief, mourning, and the joy of survival, inspired by a real phone booth in Japan with its disconnected “wind” phone, a place of pilgrimage and solace since the 2011 tsunami.

When Yui loses both her mother and her daughter in the tsunami, she begins to mark the passage of time from that date onward: Everything is relative to March 11, 2011, the day the tsunami tore Japan apart, and when grief took hold of her life. Yui struggles to continue on, alone with her pain.
Then, one day she hears about a man who has an old disused telephone booth in his garden. There, those who have lost loved ones find the strength to speak to them and begin to come to terms with their grief. As news of the phone booth spreads, people travel to it from miles around.

Soon Yui makes her own pilgrimage to the phone booth, too. But once there she cannot bring herself to speak into the receiver. Instead she finds Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of her mother’s death.

Simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming, The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World is the signpost pointing to the healing that can come after.

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  • The Overlook Press
  • Hardcover
  • March 2021
  • 416 Pages
  • 9781419754302

Buy the Book

$25.00

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About Laura Imai Messina

Laura Imai Messina is the author of The Phone Booth at the Edge of the WorldLaura Imai Messina has made her home in Japan for the last 15 years and works between Tokyo and Kamakura, where she lives with her Japanese husband and two children. She has master’s and doctorate degrees from Tokyo University. Translated from the Italian by Lucy Rand, The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World is Laura Imai Messina’s English-language debut.

Praise

“This beautiful novel tells a story of universal loss and the power of love. It will remain engraved in my heart and mind forever. During these difficult times we face, it addresses questions that we might all have—how to connect with those we have loved and lost and how to allow ourselves to live and to love again. Beautifully written, sensitive and evocative, it paints a picture of an inner and outer world that is infused with both tragedy and hope. It moved me to tears and made me want to speak my own secret thoughts in the phone box at the edge of the world. Absolutely breathtaking and stunning.” — Christy Lefteri, bestselling author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo

“Thoughtful and tender, full of small daily moments and acts of kindness, Messina’s novel is a testament to the power of community (and a bit of whimsy) in moving forward after loss.” Shelf Awareness

“A tender tribute to grief and what it teaches us. Healing is not linear, and the ones we lose never truly leave us…The phone booth is a magical place that not only connects the living to the dead but also the living to the living.” BookPage

“A must-read…a beautifully written book…Messina writes in a way that’s evocative of Kazuo Ishiguro but in an opposite way: While Ishiguro leads with comfort and hints at the sadness to come, Messina offers grief and sadness first but offers the reader a trail of breadcrumbs toward future happiness.” — Kirkus

“A story about the dogged survival of hope when all else is lost . . . Messina shows us that even in the face of a terrible tragedy, such as an earthquake or a loss of a child, the small things – a cup of tea, a proffered hand – can offer a way ahead. Its meditative minimalism makes it a striking haiku of the human heart.” ― The Times (London)

Discussion Questions

1. What are some of the different ways the book portrays the relationship between parent and child? What does that relationship mean to Yui throughout the novel?

2. Throughout the book, almost everything is permeated by a kind of duality, that happiness can come with fear, grief can come with beauty, etc. What are some dualities in the book that spoke to you and how do they dictate they ways in which the characters approach the world?

3. How does wind define or enhance the most important moments in this story?

4. Did you want to know more about Susuki-san? About his background, education, or experience that led him to install the phone?

5. What does the man with the picture frame symbolize in the story?

6. A professional writer who plans to title his upcoming book The Age of Immortality suggests that his son drowned because of “bad luck.” How does luck enter or affect any character’s life in this novel?

7. How did you feel about the short chapters with lists and other details of daily life?

8. Why do you think Yui couldn’t bring herself to talk on the phone?

9. What role does memory play in the book and what are some of the different perceptions of what it means to preserve things and people who have been lost?

10. Yui thinks to herself about how she might have cut herself into two: the world of the living and the world of the dead. How does this separation play out over the course of the novel?

11. How does the novel play with time? How does grief affect the way people perceive time in the book? Why do you think the author jumped from past to present to future in the book?