デビュー作で本屋大賞も受賞なるか? 『さようなら、オレンジ』に注目


2014年本屋大賞に、オーストラリア在住の新人作家の小説がノミネートされました。作家の名前は岩城けい氏。著者初の作品『さようなら、オレンジ』で、昨年の第29回太宰治賞に選ばれました。太宰治賞選考委員に「この作品しかない!」と言わしめ、史上初の満場一致で推された作品とは? 彗星のごとく現れた大型新人の作品に注目が集まります。



舞台はオーストラリアの片田舎。主人公のサリマはアフリカから戦火を逃れ、難民としてわたってきました。家族を捨てて蒸発した夫に代わり、生きるためにスーパーの生鮮食品の加工の仕事に就き、英語を一から学びはじめます。肌の色や言葉の"違い"に苦しみながらも、ただ生きるという目的のために、仕事も言葉もつかんでいきます。一方で、自分のルーツに誇りを持ちたいという思いを強くします。故郷と同じオレンジ色の朝焼けに「わたしだけはあきらめない」と誓いながら。

サリマは徐々に、仕事に慣れ、最低限の言葉を習得していきます。生きることに直結していた仕事と言葉。ではその先に、何のために仕事を続けるのか、何のために言葉を習得しつづけるのか...、そんな根源的な問いと答えが、日本人女性との出会いを通して描かれていきます。

ハリマは、語学学校でともに学ぶ黒髪の日本女性にハリネズミというあだ名をつけます。アフリカで、両親や弟を亡くす戦火をくぐりぬけてきたサリマと、平和な日本からやってきたハリネズミ。当初、ハリマは自分にない学歴を持ったハリネズミに妬みを覚えます。しかし、不幸な事件をきっかけに、ハリネズミが自分と同様、生きるために言葉を学び、働こうとしていることを理解し、二人は心を通わせていきます。そして、サリマは子どもたちにアフリカの暮らしを話し伝えるため、ハリネズミはサリマの人生を小説に残すため、学んだ言葉をたどたどしくも紡いでいこうと、さらに前に歩きはじめます。

著者は、大学卒業後、単身でオーストラリアに渡り、以来20年在住されています。日常を英語圏で暮らしながら、日本語で小説を書く、そんな岩城氏のバッググラウンドが色濃く反映された作品だと言えます。不器用にもがきながら、それでも諦めず、自分の道を進む女性の姿に、勇気を与えられる一冊です。

【書籍データ】
『さようなら、オレンジ』(筑摩書房)岩城けい著、1,365円

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