Trinity, Trinity, Trinity: A Novel (Paperback)
"Delicately weaves generations of women to the lasting wounds of nuclear destruction and the hubris of war. A unique and unforgettable novel." —Kali Fajardo-Anstine, author of Woman of Light
A literary thriller about the effects of nuclear power on the mind, body, and recorded history of three generations of Japanese women.
Nine years after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster, Japan is preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. An unnamed narrator wakes up in a cold, sterile room, unable to recall her past. Across the country, the elderly begin to hear voices emanating from black stones, compelling them to behave in strange and unpredictable ways. The voices are a symptom of a disease called “Trinity.”
As details about the disease come to light, we encounter a thread of linked histories—Prometheus stealing fire from the gods, the discovery of radiation, the nuclear arms race, the subsequent birth of nuclear energy, and the disaster in Fukushima. The thread linking these events begins to unravel in the lead-up to a terrorist attack at the Japan National Olympic Stadium.
A work of speculative fiction reckoning with the consequences of the past and continued effects of nuclear power, Trinity, Trinity, Trinity follows the lives of three generations of women as they grapple with the legacy of mankind's quest for light and power.
About the Author
Erika Kobayashi is a novelist and visual artist based in Tokyo. Kobayashi creates works that are inspired by things invisible to the eye: time and history, family and memory, and the traces left in places. She was awarded the 44th Japan Sherlock Holmes Club Encouragement Award in 2022 for her novel His Last Bow (Kodansha,) the 7th Tekken Heterotopia Literary Prize in 2020 for her novel Trinity, Trinity, Trinity (Shūeisha,) and won the the 2022-2023 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prizes (JUSFC) for the English translation of Japanese literature for Trinity, Trinity, Trinity, translated by Brian Bergstrom. Trinity, Trinity, Trinity is her latest novel and her story collection Sunrise: Radiant Stories, is forthcoming from Astra House in 2023.
TRANSLATOR BIO: Brian Bergstrom is a lecturer and translator who has lived in Chicago, Kyoto, and Yokohama. His writing and translations have appeared in publications including Granta, Aperture, Lit Hub, Mechademia, Japan Forum, positions: asia critique, and The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories. He is the editor and principal translator of We, the Children of Cats by Tomoyuki Hoshino (PM Press), which was longlisted for the 2013 Best Translated Book Award. His translation of Trinity, Trinity, Trinity by Erika Kobayashi (Astra House, 2022) won the 2022 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission (JUSFC) Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature. He is currently based in Montréal, Canada.
“Trinity, Trinity, Trinity is something like a next-step in Japanese atomic literature.”
—Asian Review Of Books
"I loved Erika Kobayashi’s Trinity Trinity Trinity, so I am lining up for her collection of strange and reflective connected stories about nuclear power and its effect on Japanese people and society, especially its women."
—Karla J. Strand, Ms. Magazine
"It’s this layering that makes Kobayashi’s otherwise subtle, light-footed writing intriguing. She stacks and Tetrises themes in such a way that their meanings only become clear when seen in relation to one another — the Olympics, Nazis, Hiroshima."
—Paula Aceves, Vulture
"This compelling novel weaves together the past, the present, and a possible future in a panoply of memory, experience, and social unrest . . . examines the shifting sands of memory and interconnected identity in a fluid landscape shaped by nuclear radiation, social media, and social connection. Highly recommended."
—Henry Bankhead, Library Journal, Starred Review
"Like its title suggests, this book is an intricate braid that contains so much: eco-terror, memory and history and mythology, generations of women, nuclear trauma — the list goes on. This is Kobayashi’s first translation into English and it bodes well for what’s to come. A deeply cool, deeply good book. Radioactive, indeed."
—Kelsey F., bookseller, Powell's
"Erika Kobayashi gathers world-historical, feminist, and ecological yarns to crochet a web of 'terrorist' intrigue that tugs the Tokyo Olympics completely off-course. Fast-paced, funny, and thrillingly conceptual, Trinity, Trinity, Trinity is a masterpiece from one of Japan’s most original new voices."
—Margherita Long, author of Care, Kin, Crackup: Fukushima and the Intrusion of Gaia
"Erika Kobayashi forms an intricate lacework of a narrative in Trinity, Trinity, Trinity, unflinchingly revealing patterns and symmetries in the history of nuclear warfare, radioactivity, and the unspoken emotional legacies inherited by generations of mothers and daughters. Possessing its own glowing dream-logic, this novel is dark and radiant all at once."
—Lee Conell, author of The Party Upstairs
"Erika Kobayashi’s compelling new novel explores the nuclear trauma of the 20th and 21st centuries through the code name Trinity: the site of the detonation of the first atomic bomb, an allusion to a poem by John Donne, and the appearance of a strange disease, also called Trinity. Interweaving the lives of three generations of women, Kobayashi effectively combines history, memory, and forgetfulness in a gripping narrative that this reader could not put down. A major contribution to contemporary Japanese fiction by an important new author."
—Janice Carole Brown, author of Tarnished Words: The Poetry of Ōba Minako
"Erika Kobayashi’s brilliant novel Trinity, Trinity, Trinity traces the everyday, yet ghostly, technologies, and the invisible forces, that shape our lives, acts, and epoch. A luminous and penetrating history of our shared present—a history felt on the body, across generations and around the world. Incandescent and indispensable, this is a stunning work by a visionary artist and writer."
—Mark Seltzer, author of The Official World
"Trinity, Trinity, Trinity is a heartfelt and poignant novel about the aftermath of disaster. Erika Kobayashi brilliantly layers memory and oblivion, fear and doubt, destruction and recovery via the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the Fukushima nuclear accident in a story that is hauntingly reminiscent of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Stunning and unforgettable."
—J.M. Lee, author of Broken Summer
"Reading Trinity, Trinity, Trinity by Erika Kobayashi is like entering a universe beating with a deeply intelligent light. Kobayashi delicately weaves generations of women to the lasting wounds of nuclear destruction and the hubris of war. A unique and unforgettable novel."
—Kali Fajardo-Anstine, author of Woman of Light
"Trinity, Trinity, Trinity encloses the reader in a terrifying world undreamed of by the irrational. Humans reduced to themselves, their solitude and incompleteness, make their way cautiously through a world of ordered disequilibrium. Kobayashi writes with an ironic potency that illuminates the actual at every mysterious point."
—Susanna Moore, author of In the Cut