Emily Itami is one of ten emerging writers in the running for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2022,‘the UK’s most prestigious award for first-time novelists’ (Telegraph). The winning author will receive a £10,000 prize along with a year-long package of support with the National Centre for Writing to help them progress their career. Stay tuned for the shortlist announcement on Tuesday 7 June.
Emily Itami is a freelance journalist and travel writer. Fault Lines is her first novel, and follows the story of a Japanese housewife who has everything a woman could want, yet is strangely dissatisfied. She rediscovers freedom in an affair with a successful restaurateur, but the further she falls into their relationship, the clearer it becomes that she is living two lives, and she can choose only one. Get to know the author behind the words below.
Learn about the inspiration behind Emily’s Fault Lines on Olivia’s Book Club Podcast →
Emily Itami is a debut novelist who uses her expertise as a travel writer to transport her readers to Tokyo in Fault Lines. The book focuses on Mizuki, a wealthy and beautiful Tokyo wife and mother, who is profoundly bored. Her witty internal dialogue reveals there are cracks beneath the shiny surface which, like the fault lines running through the city, threaten to damage or destroy. Emily joined the podcast from London to reflect on her experience living in Tokyo, the expectations women face, and how motherhood changes everything.
Discover how motherhood and Japanese society influenced the writing of Fault Lines on The Library Love Fest →
I think Tokyo is a place where you choose which parts of yourself to show.
I’ve always been wanting to talk about Tokyo, and this was just an opportunity to do it in as much detail as I’ve always wanted to do it. I wanted people to feel it and love it as much as I do.
Watch Emily Itami discuss the theme of identity in Fault Lines on Instagram Live with Bookclubs →
What is one thing you would like the reader to take away from this story?
I would hope, in an ideal world, it would just be the feeling that we’re all so much more similar. It might appear on the surface that there might not be very much commonality across all this space between the reader and the character, but I think that ultimately we all are struggling with the same issues, and wondering the same things, and thinking the same secret thoughts.
Listen to an interview with Emily Itami on the Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books podcast →
Japan is a really traditional society in lots of ways. There, the difference between a woman without children and a mother was really pronounced. Finding myself living in that environment was really fascinating and made me ask a lot of questions about identity in general and female identity and how to be a mother but still keep your sense of being yourself.
I really wanted to write about Japan. I really wanted to write about motherhood. It seemed like a really good opportunity to be able to marry those things and talk about all those things I really wanted to talk about.
Where can I buy Fault Lines?
Check out your local bookshop to buy a copy of Natasha’s ‘utterly accomplished‘ (Megan Bradbury) first novel. Or head to Bookshop.org to support independent bookshops countrywide. Here’s a hand-pick of our favourites:
Looking for more interesting books to add to your ‘to be read’ pile? Check out the full Desmond Elliott Prize longlist on our website! We’d love you to share your thoughts on social media and tag us on Instagram and Twitter. 🥰📚