Kappa Quartet by Daryl Qilin Yam

It’s past 9 pm. A man enters an izakaya in Tokyo and has an encounter with Mr. Five, a kappa. The man finds himself confiding in Mr. Five about his marriage and his wife’s strange compulsion to disappear or run away.


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?


Epigram Books (2016; print)

Storytel (2019; audiobook)

Contemporary Folklore Magical Realism


Debbie Ding

Debbie Ding

Debbie Ding is a visual artist and technologist who researches and explores technologies of perception through personal investigations and experimentation. Prototyping is used as a conceptual strategy for her artistic production.


Daryl Qilin Yam

Daryl Qilin Yam is a writer of fiction and poetry, editor, and arts organiser and producer. He is also a member of the Board of Directors at the literary charity Sing Lit Station.

More Stories