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Sawako Nakayasu

Sawako Nakayasu writes and translates poetry, and also occasionally creates performances and short films. Her most recent books are The Ants (Les Figues) and a translation of The Collected Poems of Sagawa Chika (Canarium Books,...

The Ants

Sawako Nakayasu

Cover art by Kenjiro Okazaki
Fiction, Literature | $17.00
ISBN 13: 978-1-934254-54-7
Size: 8.5″ x 5.5″
Pages: 93
Binding: Softcover, Perfect
Published: July 1, 2014


The Ants is a study not of, but through, ants. In a dashing sequence of prose pieces, Sawako Nakayasu takes the human to the level of the ant, and the ant to the level of the human. Prima facie, The Ants is a catalogue of insect observations and observations of insects. But the exposé of insect life humbles and disrupts the myopia that is human life, where experience is seen in its most raw and animal form and human “nouveau-ambitious” and “free-thinking” lifestyles become estranged, uncovered, and humbled. Found in the soups of dumplings and remembered in childhood vignettes, these ants trail through what Nakayasu writes as the “industry of survival,” exploring interfaces of love, ambition, and strategy. The danger is not in sentiment, but rather, in a gash, a wall, an argument, an intention. Is it more lonely to be crushed into the core of a non-mechanical pencil, to be isolated in the safety of home, or to “find” “it” “all” at the very very last moment? The Ants is the distance, the break, the tenuous wilderness between exoskeleton and endoskeleton, and Nakayasu puts her finger on it, and it, and it.

Praise for The Ants

“We have plenty to learn from the numerous ants. Sawako Nakayasu—writer, antologist, Baudelaire’s sister—turns daily life inside out and upside down then puts it into perfect little boxes. Here we follow the lines of black legged, syntactical units—the words—as they cross and they tickle the heart of the matter with us.”

—John Granger

“Nakayasu’s ants, ‘clutching one another out of desperation or in search of comfort, slide back down to the wretched earth from which they try to escape once more,’ and in doing so illustrate her ability to draw empathy for some of the world’s most fragile creatures: humans.”

Publishers Weekly

“Nakayasu probes the big existential questions through the lens of ants, the same insects we compare ourselves to in rueful humility.”

—Lauren Eggert-Crowe, Trop

“Nakayasu writes intentionally on the fence of genres and further blurs the lines among literary forms, something that—regardless of our tendency to categorize and in spite of any genre purists left in our blurry, blurry world—enchants us as readers and excites us craft-wise as writers.”

—Patricia Contino, NewPages