Yakuza Moon

Yakuza Moon: Memoirs of a Gangster's Daughter By Shoko Tendo
Kodansha Europe / Price £12.99 / ISBN 13: 9784770030429 / Hardback

When starting her autobiography Yakuza Moon, Shoko Tendo didn’t set out to write a beautiful prose. Insecurities of this being her foray into literature aside, she was determined, simply, to stay true to herself—a lesson she learnt from her father, a Japanese yakuza (gangster) boss. It was a realisation that came late in life and only after experiencing two decades’ worth of brutality and abuse. From her pre-teens onwards, Shoko’s life has been dogged with drug addiction, rape, savage beatings at the hands of most of her lovers, sexual assault, miscarriage, poverty, attempted suicide and the death of her loved ones, all set within the closed world of Japan’s yakuza society. She needn’t have apologised for how poorly we might consider this book written—it would have been hard for Shoko to find any beauty to draw on when hers is a story of living hell. With Yakuza Moon, we are instead invited to open Shoko’s journal and share, chapter and verse, in each and every appalling tragedy that has befallen her. Written as frankly as any young woman’s diary, it is her lack of self-pity and matter-of-fact delivery of each painful memory that makes this book so intensely-moving and hard to put down. Shoko’s harrowing but ultimately triumphant tale became a cult hit in Japan on its original release and now, her memoirs have been translated into English. We spoke to Shoko Tendo ahead of the book’s release in the UK this May.

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