“All this is based on what I’ve heard from other people or worked out for myself. It may not be entirely true, though I for one believe it.”

There’s a wildness to these stories, both through the strength of Miyzawa’s voice and his use of familiar fairy-tale motifs turned slightly askew, which can feel abrupt on a first read and satisfyingly subversive on a second one. Many of Miyazawa’s stories resist tidiness or easy moralizing. There’s certainly a sense of morality (at times it even feels like a keenly-felt wound is being lanced onto the page), and every so often there’s a tidy tale about an overly-defensive rat that drives its friends away. But by and large, Miyazawa’s stories are grounded by a sense of the many intersecting injustices at play in the world, for corrupt police chiefs and carnivorous slugs alike.

I reviewed Once and Forever: The Tales of Kenji Miyazawa at NPR.org.