When Gilbert Silvester, a journeyman lecturer on beard fashions in film, awakes one day from a dream that his wife has cheated on him, he flees - immediately, irrationally, inexplicably - for Japan. In Tokyo he discovers the travel writings of the great Japanese poet Basho. Suddenly, from Gilbert's directionless crisis there emerges a purpose: a pilgrimage in the footsteps of the poet to see the moon rise over the pine islands of Matsushima. Falling into step with another pilgrim - a young Japanese student called Yosa, clutching a copy of The Complete Manual of Suicide - Gilbert travels with Yosa across Basho's disappearing Japan, one in search of his perfect ending and the other the new beginning that will give his life meaning. The Pine Islands is a serene, playful, profoundly moving story of the transformations we seek and the ones we find along the way.