Original title: Sémi

Publication Date:

May 2021



Original language and publisher

French | Actes Sud

Territories Handled

Netherlands, North America, Scandinavia

Territories Sold

Spanish (World) (Tusquets)


Literary Fiction


Original title: Sémi


Tetsuo and Fujiko Niré have been living in an old people’s home ever since Fujiko developed the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s a few years previously. They tied the knot forty years ago through an arranged marriage and have lived a peaceful existence together. They had three children (though sadly the oldest died early of cancer) and now have four grandchildren to whom they are very attached.

When she wakes up one morning, Fujiko no longer recognises her husband. Initially, Tetsuo is completely at a loss as to know what to do, but eventually he resolves to win back the affections of a woman who now sees him as a stranger to whom she has somehow ended up engaged. Through the haze of the sometimes incoherent musings of his wife, he comes to realise that he hasn’t quite been the perfect husband he imagined himself to be. And what if this situation were to offer him a second chance to make Fujiko happy?

Following on from the intergenerational family secrets of Le Poids des secrets, the encroachment of the professional on the private sphere in Au coeur du Yamato, and the exploration of intimate bonds between individuals in L’Ombre du chardon, Aki Shimazaki has embarked on a new cycle of novels with Suzuran and Sémi. As with her three previous series, the various volumes can be read as standalone works and in any order, which is in itself a reflection of the masterful storytelling skills of this queen of the minimalist family saga and understated melodrama.

Other books by this author