July 01, 2018

Book Review The Buddha Tree by Fumio Niwa

Book Review The Buddha Tree by Fumio Niwa

Author:         Fumio Niwa
Translator:   Kenneth Strong
Publisher:    Charles Tuttle, Tokyo, Japan.1968
                        ISBN:             0-8048-0995-X                                 Pages:  380

Life inside a Buddhist Temple

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Set in a rural town in Japan, a priest of a historic temple finds himself in a spot of trouble that has built itself up over a number of years and he now is faced to deal with it. A strong set of characters build the scene and plot.

We learn the inner workings of a Buddhist temple, how people live, their daily life and the jobs involved with the temple and the interaction with parishioners. We gain a snapshot of Japanese culture, customs and rituals and the norms of the period.

A light novel that will keep your interest as you learn about people, institutions, customs and culture in a warm , charming way. Fumio Niwa is a great story teller.


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June 08, 2018

Book Review Beyond The Curve by Kobo Abe

Book Review

Beyond The Curve by Kobo Abe

Author: Kobo Abe

Translator: Juliet Winters Carpenter

Publisher: Kodansha Amer Inc (February 1993)

ISBN: 978-4770016904 Pages: 248

A powerful selection of short stories

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A superb collection of twelve short stories by the master writer Kobo Abe. The book starts with “An irrelevant death” when a man finds a dead body in his room in a boarding house and we have a front row view of his thought processes as he decides what to do in Japan. In the West we would just call the police. In “The crime of S. Karma” we learn about the life of a insurance salesman who loses his identity to his business card. The story “Dendrocacalia” shares what it is like for a man who once a year transforms into a plant and the anguish he faces.

Standout stories include: “Record of a transformation” about the horror of war but not as you may think and “Intruders” which is simple but shockingly powerful in its reality, “The Bet” where an architect learns first hand the intricate requirements of a client by visiting his office which is just hilarious.

If you enjoy the work of Kobo Abe you will definitely enjoy this new collection of English language translated short stories.

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June 02, 2018

Editorial Review Evil and The Mask by Fuminori Nakamura

Editorial Review 

Evil and The Mask by Fuminori Nakamura

"The second book by prize-winning Japanese novelist Fuminori Nakamura to be available in English translation, a follow-up to 2012's critically acclaimed The Thief─another fantastically creepy, electric literary thriller that explores the limits of human depravity─and the powerful human instinct to resist evil.

When Fumihiro Kuki is eleven years old, his elderly, enigmatic father calls him into his study for a meeting. "I created you to be a cancer on the world," his father tells him. It is a tradition in their wealthy family: a patriarch, when reaching the end of his life, will beget one last child to cause misery in a world that cannot be controlled or saved. From this point on, Fumihiro will be specially educated to learn to create as much destruction and unhappiness in the world around him as a single person can. 

Between his education in hedonism and his family's resources, Fumihiro's life is one without repercussions. Every door is open to him, for he need obey no laws and may live out any fantasy he might have, no matter how many people are hurt in the process. But as his education progresses, Fumihiro begins to question his father's mandate, and starts to resist."

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