Life For Sale by Yukio Mishima

Originally serialised in Playboy Magazine (in Japan) between May to October of 1968, Life For Sale wasn’t available to read in The UK for decades. Thankfully Penguin Classics decided to turn Yukio Mishima’s stories into a novel and, with the help of Stephen Dodd’s translation which makes the story accelerate along, this classic by is finally in bookshops. And it is a classic. Yukio Mishima is a complicated person whose nationalistic sympathies ended with public disembowelment. Not the end I would choose for myself, but attention grabbing nonetheless. A literary author, Life For Sale was a departure for him in terms of style. It’s pure pulp fiction and, just like his other novels, always readable.Life For Sale tells the story of a misanthrope named Hanio Yamada who decides life isn’t worth living. As a result of this epiphany, he takes out an advert in the newspaper announcing his life for sale. Anyone with money can buy and use him for whatever purpose they choose. As a concept, it’s rather wonderful. Soon enough he comes across adulterous lovers, a vampire, a criminal organisation, and a junkie heiress. The idea of the story, the crux of it, is to show just how much Hanio’s life is really worth. By the last page, I found myself wanting more, not less. And really, isn’t that what we all want from a good book?Other books from Yukio Mishima that I’d suggest reading are Confessions of a Mask and The Frolic of the Beasts. His other novels are very good, all in various different ways, but these books are a bit more concise and purposeful in their storytelling. Also, they’re available to buy right now and in this current Lockdown, a good distraction. If you prefer short stories, then Death in Midsummer is his best collection and also available to buy online or at your nearest bookshop when it reopens.

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