Author(s): Yoko Ogawa
In a crumbling, seaside hotel on the coast of Japan, quiet, seventeen-year-old Mari works the front desk as her mother fusses over the off-season customers. When, one night, they are forced to eject a prostitute and a middle-aged man from his room, Mari finds herself drawn to the man's voice, in what will become the first gesture of a long seduction. The mysterious man lives quietly as a translator on an island off the coast. A widower, there are murmurs around town that he may have murdered his wife. Mari begins to visit him, but as he initiates her into a dark realm of both pain and pleasure, she finds herself also attracted to his earnest young nephew. As Mari's mother and the police begin to close in on the illicit affair, events move to a dramatic climax.