Tokyo, My Everest: A Canadian Woman in Japan


223 pages
ISBN 0-88882-181-6
DDC 952'.135049





Reviewed by Patricia Morley

Patricia Morley is professor emerita of English and Canadian studies at
Concordia University, and the author of Kurlek, Margaret Laurence: The
Long Journey Home, and As Though Life Mattered: Leo Kennedy’s Story.


“What’s a nice Jewish girl from Toronto doing in a place like
this?” Gabrielle Bauer asks as she finds herself in a cheap, crowded
guesthouse in Tokyo. The recently divorced editor and journalist has
come to Japan to follow a dream—a love affair that is as much with a
culture as with an individual. Six months of intensive study have made
her passably fluent in the language, but her take on Japan, almost
inevitably, remains that of a Western woman; it is her inability to
understand her Japanese lover, Tetsu, that brings the relationship to an
abrupt end. Bauer seeks immersion and total acceptance, only to conclude
that she can never fit in. The intensity of the relationship, while it
lasts, makes the latter half of the book stronger than the first and
sharpens its ironies. Rejected by Tetsu, Bauer leaves her “spiritual
home,” resigned to viewing it from afar.

In the end, we may see Bauer’s Everest as language. Hers ranges
freely from crudity to cliché, from slang to occasional bursts of
lyricism. Insights gained from encounters with strangers swing from
shrewd to naive. Tokyo, My Everest is a provocative romp through
territories both strange and familiar, a roller-coaster ride through the
human heart.


Bauer, Gabrielle., “Tokyo, My Everest: A Canadian Woman in Japan,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 12, 2024,