This essay introduces three works of post-Fukushima Japanese literature, by Hayashi Kyoko (1930–2017), Kimura Yusuke (1970–) and Kobayashi Erika (1978–), to offer an environmental humanities alternative to Giorgio Agamben's response to COVID-19. Politically, Hayashi is probably closest to Agamben in that her work has been embraced by antinuclear activists in Japan and upheld as evidence of the injustice of the state of exception into which victims of both Fukushima and Hiroshima/Nagasaki were thrust. The author focuses instead on how these three authors acknowledge the cruelties of biopolitics but nevertheless celebrate the fact that “life” is never bare. For them, ionizing radiation acts like the COVID cough did for many of us: not as an invitation to critique the state but as a material intrusion that forces an awareness of what Rocco Ronchi, in his response to Agamben, called “the destiny of the community of man with nature.” What are the material forces immanent to that destiny? What does it do to our mental health to engage them directly? The three works analyzed answer these questions in creative, powerful ways.

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