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Soho Crime

The Night of Baba Yaga by AKIRA OTANI (Hardcover) (PREORDER)

The Night of Baba Yaga by AKIRA OTANI (Hardcover) (PREORDER)

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Fiction - Thrillers - Crime - World Literature - Japan


Translated by: Sam Bett

A fierce mixed-race fighter develops a powerful attachment to the yakuza princess she’s been forced to protect in this explosive queer thriller: Kill Bill meets The Handmaiden meets Thelma and Louise

Tokyo, 1979. Yoriko Shindo, a workhorse of a woman who has been an outcast her whole life, is kidnapped and dragged to the lair of the Naiki-kai, a branch of the yakuza. After she savagely fends off a throng of henchmen in an attempt to escape, Shindo is only permitted to live under one condition: that she will become the bodyguard and driver for Shoko Naiki, the obsessively sheltered daughter of the gang’s boss.

Eighteen-year-old Shoko, pretty and silent as a doll, has no friends, wears strangely old-fashioned clothes, and is completely naive in all matters of life. Originally disdaining her ward, Shindo soon finds herself far more invested in Shoko’s well-being than she ever expected. But every man around them is bloodthirsty and trigger-happy. Shindo doubts she and Shoko will survive much longer if nothing changes. Could there ever be a different life for two women like them?

Akira Otani’s English-language debut moves boldly through time and across gender, stretching the definitions and possibilities of each concept. Rendered in a gorgeous translation by International Booker–shortlisted Sam Bett, this lean, mean thriller proves that bonds forged in fire are unbreakable.


Akira Otani was born in Tokyo in 1981. Beginning her career writing for video games, she made her literary debut with the short story collection Nobody Said We're Perfect, an exploration of relationships between women. An out lesbian, she is the author of the essay collection Since You're So Curious About my Body and the forthcoming novel Rurika, Born 2019, Turns 50. The Night of Baba Yaga is her first book to be translated into English.


Sam Bett is a fiction writer and Japanese translator. Working with David Boyd, he co-translated the Mieko Kawakami novels Heaven, shortlisted for the International Booker Prize; All the Lovers in the Night, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction; and Breasts and Eggs.

Praise for The Night of Baba Yaga

A Ms. Magazine Most Anticipated Feminist Book of 2024
Publishers Weekly's Spring 2024 Preview Top 10 Mysteries & Thrillers

"Part kick-to-the-solar-plexus martial arts thriller and part poignant queer love story, Akira Otani's spare, tightly plotted The Night of Baba Yaga is a violent and transgressive marvel. The two women at its center--the tough bodyguard Yoriko Shindo and Shoko, the yakuza 'princess' she's charged with protecting--couldn't be more different on the surface, but they awake in each other a desire to live free from the yakuza's cruelty. I read the novel in a breathless flash and still can't shake the sheer power of its ending."
--John Copenhaver, Lambda Award-winning author of Hall of Mirrors

"Otani's explosive debut navigates gender and time, offering a gripping, unbreakable thriller."
--Tokyo Weekender

"As thrilling as it is fast paced."
--First Clue Reviews

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