Magazine article Herizons

[Exile & the Heart: Lesbian Fiction]

Magazine article Herizons

[Exile & the Heart: Lesbian Fiction]

Article excerpt

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Going by the characters in Tamai Kobayashi's Exile and the Heart, the idea that lesbians live inordinate struggles bears out. Her well-wrought characters have tough hides, reasonable in an unreasonable world.

Kobayashi's stories contain slices of the lives of lesbian of colour in various Canadian metropolises. She offers the reader a narrative spectrum, ranging from an indigenous character and her chum on a prairie road journey, to one coming out to her mother, dating challenges and powerful friendships. These stories are inflected by her writerly sensibility, one that highlights sharp observation with mercy, sweeps of emotions anchored by tough groundedness.

Kobayashi writes feelingly, but does not cross into the maudlin, which is a strength for this reviewer, whose body shies away from easy sentimentality.

The contemporary urban scene, the setting for several of Kobayashi's heart-chugging vignettes, is a space of extreme existential contradictions, absolutely frictional if one is not careful to manage them. The First World facilities of Canadian cities exist amidst the negations of a difficult historical past in current reality, jarring with the chaos of the warp-speed of urban lives, caught in carnivalesque survival against ever-encroaching corporatism, nabbed in the unpredictabilities of upclose intimacies among sexually-dissident women.

Another ontological reservoir of tough-hide layerings has to do with the narrative fact that the main characters of Kobayashi's stories are traced in ways specific to the Canadian polity. …

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