SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE 2019
AN INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
"Readers who like quiet, meditative works will enjoy this strangely affecting buddy story." —Publishers Weekly
"Rather than tying up the loose ends, she leaves them beautifully fluttering in the wind, and you do not feel lost in that experience. The writing is poetic and it’s worth savouring." —Angela Caravan, Shrapnel
A bad dream leads to a strange poetic pilgrimage through Japan in this playful and profound Booker International-shortlisted novel.
Gilbert Silvester, eminent scholar of beard fashions in film, wakes up one day from a dream that his wife has cheated on him. Certain the dream is a message, and unable to even look at her, he flees - immediately, irrationally, inexplicably - for Japan. In Tokyo he discovers the travel writings of the great Japanese poet Basho. Keen to cure his malaise, he decides to find solace in nature the way Basho did. Suddenly, from Gilbert's directionless crisis there emerges a purpose: a pilgrimage in the footsteps of the poet to see the moon rise over the pine islands of Matsushima. Although, of course, unlike the great poet, he will take a train. Along the way he falls into step with another pilgrim: Yosa, a young Japanese student clutching a copy of The Complete Manual of Suicide . Together, Gilbert and Yosa travel across Basho's disappearing Japan, one in search of his perfect ending and the other a new beginning. Serene, playful, and profound, The Pine Islands is a story of the transformations we seek and the ones we find along the way.