Cover image for The funeral of a giraffe : seven stories
The funeral of a giraffe : seven stories
Tomioka, Taeko.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Armonk, N.Y. : M.E. Sharpe, [2000]

Physical Description:
xvii, 181 pages ; 24 cm.
General Note:
"An East gate book."
The funeral of a giraffe -- Yesteryear -- Happy birthday -- A dog's eye view -- Days of dear death -- Yesterday's girl -- Time table.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PL862.O38 A15 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



A collection of short stories by scriptwriter-poet turned fiction writer Taeko Tomioka. Taeko deconstructs the discourse of the nuclear family and heterosexuality in gendered Japanese culture. Her stories focus on ordinary people unfettered by introspection or a search for life's ultimate meaning.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Disarming records of numb lives, bad sex and failed intimacy, Tomioka's disturbing stories feature characters who are adrift, maintaining only mercurial relationships with their community and with each other. Japanese readers and viewers know Tomioka as a screenwriter, novelist, poet and feminist literary critic. The exceedingly plain, deliberately charmless style she chose for these seven short fictions (published in Japan in 1975) can seem, in English, frustrating or dull; her prose works best when describing the grossness of human obsession. In "A Dog's Eye View," a tormented young man stalks his distant cousin, wracked by a love he cannot express in normal fashion. A free-living young woman in the title story brings her boyfriend's corpse to her sophisticated but baffled mother's house for an impromptu memorial service. In "Yesteryear," a man renowned for his instruction in ancient tea ceremonies inexplicably renounces his job and family to live alone. When his wife runs out of money, she visits him, and he immediately rapes her, making his former profession seem a mere sublimation of violent lust. Tomioka's sparse approach works in stories like these, whose centers are bizarre or appalling events. Her blank narration fails when she comes to quieter characters and relationships. When a daughter realizes, near the end of "Days of Dear Death," that she cannot communicate with her once-domineering mother, the discovery lacks immediacy and force. Similarly, in "Time Table," a single woman's casual description of overlapping relationships with men (named Q, R and S) yields no insight into her character. The narrator of "Yesterday's Girl" progresses from homosexual experiments to a relationship with a young bore (described simply as "the man who spoke no more than a dog") without ever revealing the synaptic infrastructure of her changing desires. The translators' introduction and an appended interview with Tomioka link her narrative practice to her feminist goals, and to her film and theater work. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Known in Japan as a contemporary feminist writer, Tomioka focuses on the roles of men and women in Japanese culture. Readers may find it difficult to get beyond the somber overtones of her writing; her characters seem apathetic, and her plots can be depressing and disturbing. In the title story, for example, a 20-year-old woman holds a wake for her dead boyfriend at her mother's house and plans ways to collect his old debts. But Tomioka's work is not without merit. For the scholar of Japanese literature, her writing can be read as social commentary on traditional Japanese society. It's easy to see how Tomioka earned her feminist labelÄin "Yesterday's Girl" the female protagonists are strong, independent, and openly sexual. This pricey collection, first published in Japan in 1975, is best suited for academic libraries and Asian literature collections.ÄShirley N. Quan, Orange Cty. P.L., Stanton, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Interview with Tomioka Taeko
The Funeral of a Giraffe
Yesteryear Happy Birthday
A Dog's Eye
View Days of Dear Death
Yesterday's Girl Time Table