Where the Wild Ladies Are
List Price: $16.95
In this witty and exuberant collection of feminist retellings of traditional Japanese folktales, humans live side by side with spirits who provide a variety of useful services—from truth-telling to babysitting, from protecting castles to fighting crime.
A busybody aunt who disapproves of hair removal; a pair of door-to-door saleswomen hawking portable lanterns; a cheerful lover who visits every night to take a luxurious bath; a silent house-caller who babysits and cleans while a single mother is out working. Where the Wild Ladies Are is populated by these and many other spirited women—who also happen to be ghosts. This is a realm in which jealousy, stubbornness, and other excessive “feminine” passions are not to be feared or suppressed, but rather cultivated; and, chances are, a man named Mr. Tei will notice your talents and recruit you, dead or alive (preferably dead), to join his mysterious company.
With Where the Wild Ladies Are, Aoko Matsuda takes the rich, millenia-old tradition of Japanese folktales—shapeshifting wives and foxes, magical trees and wells—and wholly reinvents them, presenting a world in which humans are consoled, guided, challenged, and transformed by the only sometimes visible forces that surround them.
"In her collection of interlinked stories, Aoko Matsuda reimagines traditional Japanese folktales and ghost stories with a feminist twist, positioning women at the center of narratives that are simultaneously life-like and surreal . . . Throughout Where the Wild Ladies Are, Matsuda makes witty and pointed observations about mortality, connection and freedom." —Annabel Gutterman, Time
"This isn't your usual collection of ghost stories. Translated by Polly Barton, Where the Wild Ladies Are is a modern retelling of traditional Japanese folktales. Matsuda provides a feminist twist to the surreal short stories, adding her unique brand of wit, weirdness and wonder." —Tierney Bricker, E!
"These ghosts are not the monstrous, vengeful spirits of the original stories; they are real people with agency and personalities, finally freed from the restraints placed on living women. Funny, beautiful, surreal and relatable, this is a phenomenal book." —Claire Kohda Hazleton, The Guardian
"Want a book of ghost stories that will have you ooh-ing over your cocoa? Go check out the children’s section. Want a book of ghost stories that will have you screaming around a Big Gulp–size serving of Adult Beverage? These tales are warped and reinvented from traditional Japanese ghost stories, and they go barrelling through hair salons and domestic kitchens and modern factories. Whether you’ll identify more closely with the mortals or the ghosts is an open question." —Vulture
"Reading these re-imagined Japanese folktales is a true, delirious pleasure—the uplifting, unwinding kind that otherwise feels in short supply these days. In Where the Wild Ladies Are, Aoko Matsuda has taken traditional stories and infused them with an unhinged feminist energy that feels subversive, sly, and nothing short of revelatory. It's a reinvention that offers up a whole new way to look at all our foundational myths, and allows us to conceive of a present and future that prioritizes openness and absurdity instead of restricting paradigms and dogma." —Kristin Iversen, Refinery29
"Matsuda’s eerie and bewitching short story collection updates traditional Japanese ghost stories with a feminist bent . . . The stories are coy, ambiguous, and just the right amount of creepy." —Arianna Rebolini, BuzzFeed
"Aoko Matsuda’s short story collection is full of feminist retellings of Japanese folktales. Which: hell yes. By taking ancient stories and setting them in modern-day Japan, Matsuda insightfully uses the ghost tales to reveal greater truths about our society . . . Overall, these stories are engaging and surreal and smart." —Emily Burack, One of Hey Alma's Favorite Books for Fall
"The world is not an easy place, and being alive is difficult. Being dead, though . . . is also difficult . . . Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda wants you to know that existence for all beings—including ghosts, humans, kitsune, and even an oddly-shaped tree—is full of struggle, and that female beings face particular challenges . . . This gently delightful collection of stories provides new twists on old stories and maintains a much-needed tone of optimism and resilience throughout." —Christina Ladd, The Nerd Daily
"In this delightful, sharp, poignant collection of linked short stories, Matsuda writes feminist retellings of Japanese folk tales populated by ghosts, all of them women, who are recruited into a mysterious company run by Mr. Tei. These stories are such a joy to read, with a soothing and refreshing quality that centers and celebrates 'feminine' energy, which is as expansive here as it is in real life." —Sarah Neilson, Literary Hub
"Matsuda’s groundbreaking collection turns traditional Japanese ghost and yōkai stories on their heads by championing wild, complex women . . . Matsuda’s subversive revisionist tales are consistently exciting." —Publishers Weekly
"Preface any storytelling format with 'traditional,' and audiences will have no expectations of feminist agency. Thankfully, prizewinning Japanese writer Matsuda imagines reclamation and brilliantly transforms fairy tales and folk legends into empowering exposés, adventures, manifestos . . . Adroitly translated by UK-based Polly Barton . . . Matsuda enthralls with both insight and bite." —Terry Hong, Booklist (starred review)