The Cake Tree in the Ruins


Author: Akiyuki Nosaka
Translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori

9781782274186 | PB | pp. 160 | 2018 | Pushkin Press

Profound, heartbreaking and aglow with a piercing beauty,The Cake Tree in the Ruins is based on the author’s experiences of World War II in Japan.

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The Cake Tree in the Ruins are based on his own experiences as a child in Japan during the Second World War. In 1945 the author watched the Allied firebombing of Kobe kill his adoptive parents, and then witnessed his sister starving to death.

There are stories of a lonely whale searching the oceans for a mate, who sacrifices himself for love; of a mother desperately trying to save her son with her tears; of a huge, magnificent tree which grows amid the ruins of a burnt-out town, its branches made from the sweetest cake imaginable.

Profound, heartbreaking and aglow with a piercing beauty, they express the chaos and terror of conflict, yet also how love can illuminate even the darkest moment.

Additional information


Akiyuki Nosaka
Translator: Ginny Tapley Takemori




Pushkin Press





Year of Publication:






Country of Origin:

United Kingdom

About the Author

The author was born in 1930 in Japan and was a member of the yakeato generation, ‘the generation of the ashes’, who survived the devastating firebombing of their country during the Second World War. He lost both his parents and sister in the bombing and its aftermath, but went on to become an award-winning novelist, short-story writer, essayist, lyricist, singer and politician. His novel Grave of the Fireflies was turned into a hugely successful Studio Ghibli film and is forthcoming in a new translation from Pushkin Press. He died in 2015.

The translator lives at the foot of a mountain in eastern Japan and has translated fiction by over a dozen early modern and contemporary Japanese authors for both adults and children.


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