The Lonesome Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya

The Lonesome Bodybuilder

A housewife takes up bodybuilding and sees radical changes to her physique--which her workaholic husband fails to notice. A boy waits at a bus stop, mocking businessmen struggling to keep their umbrellas open in a typhoon--until an old man shows him that they hold the secret to flying. A woman working in a clothing boutique waits endlessly on a customer who won't come out of the fitting room--and who may or may not be human. A newlywed notices th...

Details The Lonesome Bodybuilder

TitleThe Lonesome Bodybuilder
Release DateNov 6th, 2018
PublisherSoft Skull Press
GenreShort Stories, Fiction, Cultural, Japan, Magical Realism, Asian Literature, Japanese Literature

Reviews The Lonesome Bodybuilder

  • Kazen
    These surreal yet grounded stories are exactly my kind of thing.Many start in the mundane - a happy or unhappy marriage, a scene at work. One strange but believable thing happens, then something a bit more odd, until Motoya leads you down a path to the absolutely absurd. It's ridiculous, but you can't imagine the story spinning out any other way.Themes include knowing yourself, how we are changed by contact with other people, and the place of wom...
  • Uriel Perez
    There's weird and then there's "Oh my goodness, what the heck did I just read?" weird. The stories collected in Yukiko Motoya's "The Lonesome Bodybuilder" belong to the latter group.These stories are incisive explorations of domestic life fraught with tension and "out-of-left-field" bizarre field trips into the dark woods of the mind.Immersive, captivating, I can't get enough of Yukiko Motoya!
  • Robin Bonne
    4.19 Stars. I decided to rate each individual story in this collection. The author used magical realism to create modern fairytales around the complex feelings of womenhood. The translator did a lovely job with this one, and it included modern slang terms which a less talented translator might have gotten slightly wrong.The Lonesome Bodybuilder5/5 -Excellent story about a woman trapped in an unhappy marriage. She decides to become a bodybuilder. ...
  • Jerrie (redwritinghood)
    These unique stories filled with magical realism take a tongue-in-cheek look at the relationships between men and women. The stories can seem weird at first, but once you get used to the author’s sly humor this is a great read.
  • Resh (The Book Satchel)
    A mixed bag of stories. The common themes include marriage, gender dynamics, loneliness and intimacy. Most stories have a magical realism twist as well - people turn into flowers, people fly away in umbrellas. While some stories are bizarre, some are excellent because of the way they deal with human psychology (An Exotic marriage). There are 11 stories in the collection;Some of the stories stood out more than the others. Here are my favs:Favourit...
  • Audra (ouija.doodle.reads)
    For fans of the modern stylings of Haruki Murakami, Etgar Keret, Carmen Maria Machado, Karen Russell, and Kelly Link, comes another uniquely brilliant voice in short fiction, and one we are lucky to have.Most of the stories here center around themes of gender and power dynamics, as well as the problems, loneliness, and loss of true feelings and intimacy that can go along with being in relationships. Motoya has a strangely specific ability to find...
  • Lauren
    I was utterly riveted by Motoya’s short stories. I am not much of a short story reader and am very picky about those I do read. But I have found I really enjoy Asian fiction, so I was curious to read The Lonesome Bodybuilder. Motoya’s stories are weird, but not a disturbing or uncomfortable weird. More like an engrossing blend of the human mundane and surreal minutia which fluctuates and grows as the story progresses. There is nothing lost in...
  • Lauren
    Delightfully weird short stories! My favorites in the collection were the title story "The Lonesome Bodybuilder" and the sprawling "An Exotic Marriage".
  • Katie
    Weird and wonderful, The Lonesome Bodybuilder is a delightfully odd collection of short stories. Using magical realism and the absurd, Yukiko Montoya explores gender roles, social convention, and marital power dynamics in small, powerful bursts.Motoya’s eleven stories all begin with the ordinary, if not mundane, and slowly splinter into the fantastic. A young housewife transforms her body while weightlifting at the gym, yet her husband remains ...
  • Rebecca Marie
    Across eleven stories (narrated by women more often than not), the strange is used to displace very real questions about gender, power, and relationships. This is a book wherein a husband and wife begin resembling one another to the point that neither looks human; mountain peonies bloom out of underpants; strange men glide off buildings with the help of umbrellas rendered useless in typhoon rains. I loved this collection, how sure each story was ...
  • Chris
    I received my copy of The Lonesome Bodybuilder from the publisher on Edelweiss+.I have mixed feelings about this set of stories. At first, I thought I generally didn't like it. But, after thinking about each of the stories more, they're growing on me. I've had this reaction before with Oe, Ryu Murakami, and Ogawa, so I'm not going to complain.I feel like each of the stories grabbed my attention or interest in different ways. Some of them, like Th...
  • Madeline Partner
    The stories in Motoya's collection revolve around love, intimate relationships and individuality. Motoya explores the niches of modern society, bringing out the magical in the everyday, in a slightly more up-front and surprising manner than the famed Haruki Murakami. Each story delves deep into the main character's mind, examining their reactions to those around them and the world they inhabit. To express these complex thoughts, Motoya often reli...
  • Tessy Consentino
    Really bizarre, inventive short stories! Just how I like them.
  • Kurt Kemmerer
    I’m not going to pretend to have understood every story in this wonderfully surreal collection, but I loved every minute I spent with this book. Oh, and the story “An Exotic Marriage” is absolutely brilliant. It has to be among a pantheon of the world’s greatest short works, because I might like hyperbole, but it’s that good, anyway.
  • Lex Poot
    Wildly uneven set of short stories. While there are 8 brilliant ones 3 did not meet my expectations despite the positive review of Oe himself though that may have been for a shorter collection that was published in Japan.
  • Zac Smith
    there are two main strengths: one is a confident flippancy, wherein the stories are sort of satirical misdirections concerning absurd concepts in popular culture -- there's a surreal take on 'action movie scenes' played out in a fruit market and one with a Kill Bill/Anime-esque 'infinite henchmen vs. blue-haired girl' and both wrap up with unexpected absurdism.two is a (of course) Murakami/Banana-esque mysteriousness that grips you for some page-...
  • Tonstant Weader
    The Lonesome Bodybuilder: Stories is a collection of eleven short stories by Yukiko Motoya that center around the idea of identity, of being oneself and how hard selfhood can be to define and maintain, particularly in relationships with others. The title story, “The Lonesome Bodybuilder” is perhaps one of the most conventional, a woman whose self-confidence has been eroded by her husband’s criticism takes up body-building and learns more ab...
  • Stefani
    In my mind, there's a fine line between the charmingly off-kilter and the manifestation of a bizarro underworld of repressed human emotion—in Yukiko Motoya's novel, it often resides in the same place. This is perhaps representative of the contrasts of Japanese culture itself, with its quirky yet endearingly appealing cat cafes, Kawaii, and the comically outlandish packaging of many snack foods, as well as its graphic anime porn, clubs catering ...
  • Zachary Houle
    I’m a sucker for Japanese fiction, and — generally speaking — surreal Japanese fiction is my bag. Some of Haruki Murakami’s work has really resonated with me (though he can be a touch weird for weirdness’ sake), so when a new Japanese author came out with a short story collection that’s very peculiar, I jumped at it. And Yukiko Motoya’s debut English translated short story collection is very peculiar. These are stories that ...
  • Matthew Martens
    Oe is right that these stories are often less slight than they seem. Perhaps not quite often enough. On the other hand, some of them could stand to be slighter, or at least slimmer. In any case, notional images as concentrated and delightful as the peony in "An Exotic Marriage" occur just often enough to keep a reader humming along.
  • Colin
    I loved this book
  • Courtney Maum
    LOVED. Wouldn't recommend for newlyweds as many of the stories are how miserable marriage makes you, but I think the topic's FUN.
  • Shou Sen
    Another reminder that Japanese women are deeper than what appears at the surface. Eclectic stories, primarily with strong women protagonists- unpredictable, strange. Good mix of very short and decent length short stories. Leaves you with a little bit of “what the heck did I just read?”
  • Elif
  • Ali-pie
    This is an outstanding collection of surreal, feminist short stories. It's extremely original, consistently impressive, and I feel like the stories will stay with me for a long time. I hope more of her work will be translated!
  • Kenny Leck
    Read the uncorrected proof copy, and in parts, it reminded me of the writings of Haruki Murakami, Yoko Tawada, and Hiromi Kawakami. But at the same time, there was a certain newness to it. The stories shone best when they were treated in the long form as the characters had room to grow. I'd would look forward to reading a novel from the author. Without the speculative-fict elements, the tone of the stories reminded one of reading Coetzee as well.
  • Lidia
    I’ve got two words to describe this short story collection - wonderfully weird. Yukiko Motoya is an incredibly inventive author that had my attention from the very get go. None of the stories fell short for me personally, but my favourite one was An Exotic Marriage hands down.
  • Vicki
    This collection of short stories are indeed weird, but they're a very specific type of weird: they're Japanese weird. Japanese weird is it's own brand of WTF, as anyone who's seen a Japanese commercial can attest to. Guess what: that brand of weird isn't limited to just their commercials.And while these stories are that style of weird, they're also poignant in a way that only works from a Japanese author. The weird isn't there for comedic purpose...
  • Alan
    Already much heralded in her native japan, Yukiko Motoya gets a first-ever English translation and we finally get to see why she has already received numerous literary awards. These 11 stories in the collection are ambiguous, surreal, and sometimes downright disturbing. As the collection progresses the stories become increasingly fantastical and, as good literature should, they make you think, not just ‘what the heck did I just read?’ but als...