Review: Uncertain Luck

Uncertain Luck


by Rea Keech

Another novel of international love and intrigue by the prize-winning author of A Hundred Veils.

In 1969 Japan, Emiko’s father has gone to Tokyo to support students protesting the Vietnam War-but hasn’t come back. Then suddenly her mother dies. Alone and in despair, twenty-year-old Emiko abandons her factory job to go searching for her missing father.

To survive in Tokyo, she stays at a hostel in the seedy Sanya neighborhood and takes a job as hostess in a bar where she’s required to “talk cute,” which goes against her grain.

She’s previously refused an offer to become the second wife of the rich Genji, twice her age, who had been in love with her mother. But when she’s fired and out of money, in desperation she goes to Genji’s office, hoping for a loan. Genji has something else in mind.

Emiko nearly gives up finding her father when she meets Juan, an American soldier recovering from a battle injury. Now she’s in love with a soldier in the war she and her father have been denouncing for years.

Uncertain Luck provides a vivid picture of the persistence of love at a time of political conflict in Japan.


5 out of 5

This book, while not a page-turner in the typical sense, subtly pulls you in, and before you know it you’re halfway through and just coming up for air. I felt such a range of emotions while reading this, and I loved Emiko from the start. Her strength and independence were absolutely endearing. I did like Juan once we met him, and the bond that builds between him and Emiko feels so natural. A wonderful book that I plan on putting on my re-read shelf!

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About the Author

A large part of Rea Keech’s career has been teaching international students in college, including at the University of Tehran (Peace Corps assignment), the University of South Carolina, Voorhees College, schools in Japan and Greece, and the community college in Maryland, where he now lives. He is a retired Professor of World Literature and Linguistics. In Japan, Keech taught English from 1969 to 1971. Uncertain Luck is his second novel set outside of the United States. The title refers to the vaguest prediction possible on an omikuji fortune paper that one gets at a Shinto shrine or Buddhist temple in Japan.

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1 Comment

  1. Uncertain Luck has been translated into Japanese. Now Japanese people can read it in Japanese. Emiko is a 20 eyar old Japanese girl. Emiko and Juan visit many places, like Meiji Yasukini and Shrine, Ueno, Otemachi, Oji, Narimasu, etc. in Tokyo and Kitayama in snow country. It is a great Japanese novel written by an American author.

    I translated a novel into English. “Vessel of Sorrow” by Takahashi Kazumi.
    A highly prized Japanese après-guerre novel published in 1962.
    The author was reputed to be a Dostoevsky of Japan. You can read it on my website.


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