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Review: Escape Routes - Naomi Ishiguro


Genre: Magical Realism, Short Stories

Published: Tinder Press, February 2019

My Rating: 3/5 stars I have to say: I don’t envy Naomi Ishiguro... With the legacy of her father proceeding her, she clearly has some large shoes to fill. Although I tried to go into her debut collection with a completely open mind, I’d be lying if I said her last name didn’t play a part in me requesting an ARC of it. It’s important to me to mention this subconscious bias that many of us may have towards the daughter of a Nobel price winner. Often times, there’s a lot of talk surrounding the rise of a new creater, that happens to be family of. Some people will overestimate them: “as the daughter of, she has to have the same talent”. Others will underestimate will, feeling like they only got they opportunity they did because of their parents fame. In spite of them writing under the same name, in very similar genres, aswell as being deliberatly marketed as being family, I will try to detangle my feelings about Kazuo’s work, from those about Naomi’s work. Nonetheless I wanted to mention this interesting choice, probably on the part of her agents, as I’m not sure it does Naomi any favours perse. Judging from this debut collection, Naomi is perfectly capable as an author to stand on her own two feet. She has a destinct voice that I enjoyed reading from, and paints some great mental pictures with her words. She demonstrates that she has many of the skills a author needs: her choice of words is smart and deliberate, and manages to hit the right emotional tone for the context. As a non-native, one of the things I’ve always loved about the English language is discovering the nuances that “synonyms” carry, and how words with the same meaning can convey a different emotional value. It’s something that not all languages have, and something I always enjoy discovering in a new one. Naomi Ishiguro plays with this idea a lot. This is a major selling point for me, especially in short stories: the fewer words, the more each word counts. Another skill she demonstrate is the ability to create destinct voices for separate characters, which is where I guess the comparisson to David Mitchells work comes from. That unfortunately brings me to the downside of the collection, as many of the critiques that David Mitchells Cloud Atlas received are in place for Escape Routes even more so. The reason I love David Mitchells work is that he manages to link his very different stories in a common tread to create a cohesive whole. That common thread, I missed in Escape Routes. All of them share the tone of “weirdness”, yet they overall feel more like an anthology of sorts that a cohesive whole. Individually, some stories were stronger than others, and because of the lack of connection, the weaker ones weren’t able to be “pulled up” by the stronger ones. This eventually resulted in only a few of the stories being truly memorable to me. As a whole, this collection was good but not great. It was a mixed bag of stories, written by a very capable and talented young woman, of which some will stick with me, but not all. I will keep an eye on Naomi in the future however, as I think I’d enjoy a full length novel from her hand more than I did her stories. Many thanks to Tinder Press for providing me with an early copy in exchange for an honest review! Add this book to your Goodreads