Household chores

The trials of a Tokyo housewife: Mild Vertigo, by Mieko Kanai, reviewed

Natsumi lives in a modern flat in Tokyo with her husband and two young sons, her life comfortable but circumscribed by the tedium of household chores. Washing dishes in the sink, she finds herself transfixed, gazing at the ‘rope of water’ falling from the tap, twisting like a snake: ‘There was something Sisyphean in the nature of the roster of simple domestic tasks… never an end in sight.’ Things are at once too easy and too much for her; the kitchen is so perfect she hesitates to spoil its pristine condition and ends up buying ready-cooked meals, her life shrunk to what seems stifling captivity.   She memorises the layout of