I try my best to avoid using clichés in these sales pitches, but what can I say except this book is a truly heartwarming novel with friendship, love and loneliness at its heart. In her late thirties, Tsukiko is living a solitary existence in Tokyo, until one evening after work she meets one of her former schoolteachers in a bar. As the months pass they strike up a rather unconventional relationship involving conversation, silences, eye-watering amounts of saké, and in one memorable episode even find themselves on a surreal mushroom-hunting expedition. I challenge you not to smile and maybe even shed a tear over this one.

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