March Was Made of Yarn by Various
On March 11 2011, Japan’s north-east coast was hit by a massive earthquake, followed minutes later by a fifty-foot tsunami. The subsequent meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant completed a triple tragedy, in which over 15,000 people died. “March Was Made of Yarn” brings together some of the artistic responses to Japan’s 3/11. Throughout the book there’s an undercurrent of controlled tension, delivered with powerful delicacy. A recurring theme is of the debris wrought by the disasters.
One character in Kazumi Saeki’s Hiyoriyama surveys a pile of rubble that was once the stuff of people’s lives, and observes: “Not a great year for flower viewing is it?” Most of the writers adopt a sideways viewpoint. Hiromi Kawakami revisits his story, written 19 years before, in which a bear invites a man for a walk by the river. While the original has a fairy tale quality, the updated version contains references to radiation and men in protective suits. Others more directly convey resentment at the man-made features of the catastrophes, and in their manga, Brother and Sister Nishioka unleash an especially acrid message. The 2011 quake lasted six minutes, but as David Peace’s concluding story underlines, an earthquake’s aftershocks continue long after the earth has stopped shaking. [James Carson]