The weekly grief is a literary letter from Tokyo, written by me, Thu-Huong Ha. I’m a critic, journalist, and writer of fiction, and I’m deep into a year-long fellowship for the study of advanced Japanese.

Common themes of these weekly-ish dispatches include: language learning; expatriation; Asian and American identities; seasons and change; locating the normal in cultural oddities and finding the odd in cultural norms; moving, seeking, losing; real and imaginary places.

If any of these appeal to you, please subscribe. Don’t miss a week of grief.


“And yet that night we walked nonstop, at top speed…our pace never slackening, while in occasionally unintelligible English the Mexican reeled off a story that I had trouble following, a story of lost poets and lost magazines and works no one ever had ever heard of, in the middle of a landscape that might have been California or Arizona or some Mexican region bordering those states, a real or imaginary place, bleached by the sun and lost in the past, forgotten, or at least no longer of the slightest importance here, in Paris, in the 1970s. A story from the edge of civilization, I said. And he said yes, yes, I guess so, yes.” — Roberto Bolaño, Savage Detectives

“My current concerns were, needless to say, all about cracker packets.” — Kikuko Tsumura, There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job