October 01, 2018

Book Review: Five Women Who Loved Love by Ihara Saikaku

Author: Ihara Saikaku

Translator: William Theodore De Bary

Publisher: Kodansha Amer Inc (February 1993)

ISBN: 978-4770016904

Pages: 248

A collection of short stories on women who love love

© Copyright. 2016.  All rights reserved,

 A collection of five short stories by Ihara Saikaku who live in the period 1642 to 1693. Each story tells of a couple who love each other but who cannot be together and their ensuing struggles to keep their love.

The reader gets transported back to the time period in which the stories are written and gains great insights into the lifestyle and social norms of the period, plus get to meet the characters of each story and how they met, lived and challenges they faced to find love.

The stories include: The story of Seijuro in Himeji, The Barrelmaker Brimful of Love, What the seasons brought the Almanac maker, The Greengrocers daughter with a bundle of love and Gengobei, the mountain of love.

A very light, humorous and historical book that sheds light on the social conditions for love in the period.

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September 01, 2018

Book Review Kangaroo Notebook by Kobo Abe

Book Review – Kangaroo Notebook

Author: Kobo Abe

Translator: Maryellen Toman Mori 

Publisher: Alfred. A. Knopf, New Yoork, USA, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42412-1 Pages: 183

A wild ride from start to finish

© Copyright. JapaneseCustomer.com, 2016. All rights reserved, 

This is the last novel by Kobo Abe before his death in 1993. It takes the reader on a fantastic journey from everyday life to a deep dream like state where we get to learn more about the main character who is an employee for an office supply firm who has recently suggested a new product, a Kangaroo Notebook which management like and want to reward him if he can put the idea into reality.

As he contemplates the idea he discovers he has a medical problem to deal with and the novel takes us along for the ride as he tries to discover the cause and gain a solution. We meet a host of interesting characters, places and recollections. He finally ends up in hospital with an unrelated condition where he gets some help from some unlikely strangers. 

A fun, crazy and creative dive into to the subconscious!

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Book Review – Kangaroo Notebook

August 21, 2018

Book Review Cult X by Fuminori Nakamura

Title:                    Cult X

Author:               Fuminori Nakamura

Translated by:    Kalau Almony

Publisher:           Soho Press, NY, USA. 2018.

Pages:                505

ISBN:                  978-1-61695-786-5

      © Review Copyright. Peter Hanami. 2018.  All Rights Reserved.

This novel by Fuminori Nakamura is fiction but draws on the events of the 1995 Sarin Gas attacks in Tokyo and delves into what inspires cults, their backgrounds, their leaders, their followers and values. Set in the present day in Tokyo. We meet a cast of characters who take us on a journey throughout the book. Nazaraki is one of them. He has recently quit his job and has become somewhat disillusioned by corporate life and is trying to find his place in society. A chance meeting with a girl named Tachibana sets off the novel.

You will gain insights into the background philosophies of the leaders, what triggered them to start cults and how they operate inside. Part history, part documentary, part novel, this story takes the reader to become fully immersed in cults. Nakamura also draws heavily on the social implications that allow cults to gain followers by explaining the various reasons by sharing character journeys.

This novel could easily become a movie and I hope it does in the future as it lends itself to visual storytelling. Painstakingly researched and blended with numerous themes, the reader takes a path through many situations which allow you to question your own feelings.

What stood out to me as innovative was the author's ability to share what was going on in the mind of each character in each situation. This allowed a deeper understanding of the characters, context, and culture!

Very different from his other books, but Nakamura who tends to like history, for example: Enma the Immortal, (a historically based samurai story), gives the reader a great context, so by the end, they become fully engaged with the topic from many angles. Great read with deep insights into Japanese culture in the modern era. 

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