Matthieu Reviews: Ms. Ice Sandwich by Mieko Kawakami

“Ms. Ice Sandwich’s eyelids are always painted with a thick layer of a kind of electric blue, exactly the same colour as those hard ice lollies that have been sitting in our freezer since last summer.”

 I read this little novella about a month ago and have found it constantly plucking around in my head. What is it about strangers that we find so easy to stare at, to appreciate? The people we know often lose our attention, if not our affection. Kawakami approaches these kind of observations in a way that is candid and bursting with honesty. Sometimes we lose ourselves in the faces of fellow diners, patrons at a library, etc. Sometimes we become so captivated with the woman who sells sandwiches that we draw pictures of her and develop a one-sided relationship wherein she contains a bountiful power connected to her bright eyelids. This kind of obsession is not gawking and there is no sense of ridicule or judgment. It is an unexplainable, magnetic attraction that we often daydream about and long to become something understandable. This something, I think, is to be completely in sync with another in a way that is not privy to any conception of friendship, of lust, of personality that we typically understand. Instead, it seems that this magnetism is how and why tied up together in a neat bundle. These relationships need nothing more than to be understood by both parties. And when two strangers recognize that they know, really know, one another in only the most abstract of feelings...then something really beautiful and special occurs.

Ms Ice Sandwich (Japanese Novellas #4) Cover Image
By Mieko Kawakami, Louise Heal Kawai (Translated by)
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ISBN: 9781782273301
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Pushkin Press - January 23rd, 2018

A quixotic and funny tale about first love - from the Akutagawa Prize-winning author.

A boy is obsessed with a woman who sells sandwiches. He goes to the supermarket almost every day, just so he can look at her face. She is beautiful to him, and he calls her "Ms Ice Sandwich", and endlessly draws her portrait.