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Mark Henshaw’s The Snow Kimono masterfully and playfully celebrates the power of fiction to create imagined worlds and characters. Through poetic, beautiful prose, Henshaw transports his readers across continents and generations, consciously seducing them into narratives of espionage, desire, deceit and death. The novel begins in Paris. It is 1989 and Auguste Jovert, a newly retired Inspector of Police, receives a letter from an Algerian woman claiming to be his daughter. Before having time to process this news, Jovert encounters the enigmatic Japanese Professor of Law, Tadashi Omura. And so begins a sustained relationship based on storytelling.
Omura tells Jovert: ‘In Japan, we have a saying: If you want to see your life, you have to see it through the eyes of another’. The Snow Kimono invites readers to engage in just this kind of empathic imagination. It is, after all, what fiction does best. But fiction can also play dangerous games. The Snow Kimono is both a meditation on memory, love and betrayal and a puzzling, meta-fictive game about representation and illusion.
The Snow Kimono is at once a gripping and tragic thriller and a highly literary conversation. Like the Japanese himitsu-e puzzles Omura holds so dear, Henshaw’s novel is an exquisite work of art designed to deceive and to lead one astray in order to challenge the imagination. His evocative writing creates a world that is all at once realistic, cinematic and dreamlike. Henshaw draws the reader into, and through, his tale in order to enchant, haunt and perplex. The Snow Kimono is a truly exciting and accomplished novel.