Diary of a Void by Emi Yagi

Diary of a Void by Emi Yagi is a very quick read, but that did not take away from the impact it left on me.



I’m excited to see all the news books I’ll discover in 2023!

  Being a woman in the workforce is not an easy job. Most fields of work are dominated by men making it difficult for women to be taken seriously. 

  This is the case for Shibata, for she was the only woman at her new company. Shibata was given many menial tasks such as cleaning up after a meeting, or making the coffee for guests, and she was sick of this treatment. 

  One day she reached her limit and when told to clear away empty coffee cups, she told her coworkers that she was pregnant, so the smell was sickening to her. Shibata became thrilled that she was no longer subject to these tedious jobs, but there was one issue: she was not pregnant. 

  For the next several months, she had to fake her pregnancy and dodge the very personal and invasive questions about it from her nosy coworkers. However, as time went on and Shibata became more immersed with her “fake” pregnancy, the thin line between reality and fantasy became more and more unclear.

  Diary of a Void by Emi Yagi is a very quick read, but that did not take away from the impact it left on me. While there are definitely humorous moments (my favorite being “I sliced into the box with the blade, and imagined stabbing every one of my coworkers”) Shibata still experiences the tribulations that come with being alone and pregnant. Yagi writes powerful lines such as “Inside of me, there’s another person, with a form all his own, moving around as he pleases. It’s like my own body has become foreign to me”, and she explores the societal expectations that go along with being pregnant. 

  Shibata befriends many expecting mothers in her Mommy-Aerobics class, and she learns that many of their husbands have been unhelpful, and at times, rude. However, we see these complaints from the women juxtaposed by their judgment when a member of their class doesn’t make homemade lunches for her children. Yagi does a superb job at balancing misogyny found in the workplace and during a woman’s pregnancy with the internalized misogyny many women also possess.

   Diary of a Void was definitely a surprise; such a small book left a huge impact on me. The novel is translated from Japanese, and reading translated literature should be more integrated into the English curriculum. If you’re looking for a funny yet poignant book, this one would be the perfect fit.