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Otsuka’s third novel is a book of voices. A chorus, yes, but also a collective, beginning with a first-person-plural accounting of the swimmers at a community pool. It’s a vivid way to start a narrative, reminding us of not just our shared spaces but also our shared destinies. And yet, if the novel has anything to tell us, it’s that these destinies also belong to us alone. To explore these ramifications, Otsuka moves from plural to singular, from first to third person, and, ultimately, to direct address. The result is a novel that is deftly, subtly inclusive while also aware of the travails and obligations of living, which eventually come due for all of us.


Knopf
THE SWIMMERS, BY JULIE OTSUKA
Knopf Bookshop.org
$21.16

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