The Island of Bicycle Dancers
By Jiro Adachi
(St. Martin's Press, Hardcover, 9780312312459, 224pp.)
Publication Date: February 2004
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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Love, sex, death....and English as a foreign language.
The Island of Bicycle Dancers is the coming-of-age-story of twenty-year-old Yurika Song, a Korean-Japanese woman who comes from Japan to New York City for a summer to work with her Korean relatives and improve her English. Yurika's friends back home have always joked that she is half-sushi/half-kim-chi. But cross-Asian ethnicities turn out to be far less jarring than her introduction to New York life, the world of bicycle messengers and the street culture in which they thrive.
On one level this is a splendid tale of mistaken love-Yurika falls hard for an attractive, but dangerous, Puerto Rican bicycle messenger nicknamed "Bone." But on another, deeper level, our heroine finds freedom in this new language, which to her "is like a huge octopus, very clever and sometimes hard to catch but with so many wild and beautiful writhing limbs."
Born and raised in New York City to a Japanese father and Hungarian mother, Jiro Adachi's first language was not exactly broken English-more like malleable English. Mr. Adachi drew on both his experiences as a bike messenger and a teacher of English as a Foreign Language for this novel's portrait of bike boys and immigrants in New York. He lives with his wife and daughter in New York City.