Kappa Quartet:

Kappa Quartet

By Daryl Qilin Yam

Published by Epigram Books

Fiction Collections



Kevin is a young man without a soul, holidaying in Tokyo; Mr Five, the enigmatic kappa, is the man he so happens to meet. Little does Kevin know that kappas—the river demons of Japanese folklore—desire nothing more than the souls of other humans.

Set between Singapore and Japan, Kappa Quartet is split into eight discrete sections, tracing the rippling effects of this chance encounter across a host of other characters, connected and bound to one another in ways both strange and serendipitous. Together they ask one another: what does it mean to be in possession of something nobody has seen before?


Reader Reviews:

“Yam breaks new ground in Singaporean writing with his exploration of what it means to live in this weary world, to be human, to possess (or not possess) a soul. Weaving the stories of his characters into an intricate mosaic of love and yearning and heartache and loss and death and everything else intrinsically meaningful, Kappa Quartet is a shimmering and poignant novel, an immensely sympathetic and humane exploration of our existential condition.”
– Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Vol. 15 No. 4.

“Atmospheric, surreal and masterfully told through an off-kilter cast of characters lost and lonely, this exciting new read comes from the longlist of the 2015 Epigram Books Fiction Prize.”
– The Straits Times

“Located somewhere between the shattered filmic worlds of David Lynch and Satoshi Kon's apocalyptic anime, Yam's narrative hypnotises us into questioning our reality in ways that are terrifying, revelatory and fundamentally profound.”
—Cyril Wong, award-winning author of Ten Things My Father Never Taught Me

“Irreal and intricate, Daryl Yam's riveting debut teases the perimeters of what a Singaporean novel can be.”
—Amanda Lee Koe, award-winning author of Ministry of Moral Panic

Kappa Quartet builds on the promise of Daryl Yam's short stories, and confirms that he is an author to watch. And read!”
—David Peace, Granta Best Young British Novelist and author of Tokyo Year Zero

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