In the Japanese folktale Tsuru no Ongaeshi, upon which Patrick Ness’s wondrous new novel, The Crane Wife, is loosely based, a young rice farmer rescues a beautiful white crane that has crashed into his rice paddy. The crane’s fall is caused by an arrow still jutting from its wing; the farmer carefully extracts the arrow and bids the crane take care as it flies away. When he returns to his house, the farmer is shocked to find a young woman waiting for him there. She tells him she has come to be his wife and ignores his protestations of poverty. They begin a happy life together; soon the new wife barricades herself in her weaving room, alone with her loom. At her request, the farmer swears never to look inside, and she stays locked in the room for seven days. At the end of the seven days, she emerges, skinny as a rail, and presents her husband with the most beautiful piece of cloth he has ever seen. Sell it at market, she commands him, and there it fetches a high price. She returns to her weaving room and shuts the door. Curious as to the source of his wife’s skill, the farmer breaks his promise and peeks in. There, in place of his wife, sits the great white crane, weaving its feathers on the loom. When the crane sees the farmer, she sadly tells him she is the crane he saved, and that she had wished to repay him by becoming his wife. But now that he knows her true form, she can no longer remain with him. The crane removes the cloth from the loom and gives it to the farmer, then takes to the sky.
ZYZZYVA EventsDecember 5, 2017
ZYZZYVA Winter Issue Celebration in San Francisco
Location: 7 p.m., City Lights Booksellers, 261 Columbus Ave., San Francisco
Description: Featuring a conversation with T.J. Stiles and Caille Millner exploring the themes of art and resistance. Moderated by Managing Editor Oscar Villalon. Free.January 12, 2018
ZYZZYVA Winter Issue Celebration in Oakland
Location: 7 p.m., East Bay Booksellers, 5433 College Ave., Oakland
Description: Featuring a conversation with Troy Jollimore, Dean Rader, and Ismail Muhammad on the theme of art and resistance. Moderated by Managing Editor Oscar Villalon. Free.February 15, 2018
ZYZZYVA East Coast All-Stars
Location: 7:30 p.m., Greenlight Bookstore, 686 Fulton St., Brooklyn
Description: Readings by recent and Winter Issue contributors Bino A. Realuyo, Annie DeWitt, Jenny Xie, Melissa Hohl, and Kristopher Jansma. Free.
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