What This Has To Do With The Book, I Have No Earthly Idea

I was interested in John Walsh’s interview with Booker short-listed author David Mitchell, but was turned off within the first two paragraphs, after hearing the description of the “staggeringly pretty Japanese” wife and the reporter’s palpable relief that the home isn’t a “shrine to Nippon.”

“Would you do me a favour?” asks David Mitchell, as he ushers me through his front door. “Could you take your shoes off? We don’t wear shoes in the house.” Hmmm. You expect to encounter strange local customs when you fly hundreds of miles to meet a writer. But since his home is an upmarket housing estate in Clonakilty, southern Ireland, the shoes embargo seemed just a touch precious.
As it turns out, it isn’t an Irish thing at all. It’s a Japanese thing. Mitchell spent eight years in Hiroshima, and is now married to a staggeringly pretty Japanese woman called Keiko, with whom he has a tiny daughter, a vision in pink lambswool, called Hana. Their home, in this scenic corner of fashionable west Cork, is hardly a shrine to Nippon – there’s no tatami mat or Ofuro bath – but the couple sleep on futons, hand out green tea in earthenware bowls and express horror about visitors bringing micro-organisms of the outside world on to their scrubbed wooden floors.

Oh, and the word “Oriental” is used.


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