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Sunday Read: How an Item of Clothing Caused a Swift Divorce in “Lederhosen” by Haruki Murakami

 
In the spirit of April Fools’, Books LIVE announced on Wednesday that Japanese bestselling author Haruki Murakami was moving to South Africa. We didn’t convince anyone – our Facebook and Twitter followers called our bluff from the get-go.

We feel a bit bad about the fib so, to avoid becoming victims of karma, here is a short story by Murakami. Enjoy!

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Granta has shared a short story by Murakami entitled “Lederhosen” which was translated from Japanese by Alfred Birnbaum.

In the story the narrator, a Japanese man, is listening to the fascinating story of an unlikely divorce as told by his wife’s friend. The reason for her parents’ divorce is weighing heavily on her mind as she tries to understand it through telling the tale.

It all started when her elderly mother went on a trip to Germany and decided to buy her father a pair of “lederhosen”, or leather breeches for men, as a souvenir. She searched far and wide to find the shop that sells these items and jumped numerous hurdles to buy the correct pair for her husband, but when she finally purchased the garment she came to a sudden realisation.

Read the excerpt:

‘They weren’t really shorts,’ she says. ‘They were lederhosen.’

‘You mean those hiking pants the Germans wear? With the shoulder straps?’

‘That’s right. Father wanted a pair of lederhosen as a souvenir gift. Well, Father’s pretty tall. He might even have looked good in them. But can you picture a Japanese wearing lederhosen?’

I’m still not any closer to the story. I have to ask, what were the circumstances behind her father’s request for these souvenir lederhosen?

‘Oh, I’m sorry. I’m always telling things out of order. Stop me if things don’t make sense,’ she says.

‘OK,’ I say.

‘Mother’s sister was living in Germany and she invited Mother for a visit. Something she’d always been meaning to do. Of course, Mother can’t speak German, and she’d never been abroad, but it’d been ages since she’d seen my aunt. So Mother approached Father, how about taking ten days off and going to Germany, the two of us? Father’s work wouldn’t allow it, so Mother went alone.’

‘That’s when your father asked for the lederhosen, I take it?

‘Right,’ she says. ‘Mother asked what he wanted her to bring back, and Father said lederhosen.’

Book details

Image courtesy of The Independent

 

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