Japanese Literature in January

You can’t imagine how thrilled I was to see that the Classics Club has proposed a dare, and the first title we are dared to read is The Sound of the Mountain by Yasunari Kawabata. It’s only about 280 pages, and the back cover describes it as thus:

“Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata’s The Sound of The Mountain is a beautiful rendering of the predicament of old age–the gradual, reluctant narrowing of a human life, along with the sudden upsurges of passion that illuminate its closing. 

By day, Ogata Shingo, an elderly Tokyo businessman, is troubled by small failures of memory. At night he associates the distant rumble he hears from the nearby mountain with the sounds of death. In between are the complex relationships that were once the foundations of Shingo’s life: His trying wife; his philandering son; and his beautiful daughter-in-law, who inspires in him both pity and the stirrings of desire. Out of this translucent web of attachments, Kawabata has crafted a novel that is a powerful, serenely observed meditation on the relentless march of time.” 

The timing of the Classics Club suggestion coincides perfectly with the closing month of my Japanese Literature Challenge 7, for which reading only one work of Japanese literature is ‘required’. It also fits with Tony’s January in Japan Challenge.

Before I go, let me point you to LitLove’s fabulous post on Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on The Shore. It happens to be the very first work of Haruki Murakami’s that I read, too, but Victoria writes especially eloquently on that particular experience of reading Murakami for the very first time..

And so I invite you again to taste and see all that this genre has to offer.

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13 comments

  1. Our local library doesn't have much, either. Lots of Romance and YA or Fantasy, but not much in the way of translated literature. I'm surprised how much my Nook has available; it seems that's where I find most of my copies. That, or from amazon.com

  2. The Sound of the Mountain by Kawabata will be an interesting reading.

    I just finished Tinkers by Paul Harding and I'm starting his new book, Enon. I also just finished Levels of Life by Julian Barnes which included his essay on Grief, his own grief.

  3. I feel like I'm seeking out books that deal with the aging process, too, Bellezza. One of my favorites from last year is Emily Alone by Stewart O'Nan. I currently have Mary Pipher's Another Country: Navigating the Emotional Terrain of Our Elders on my nightstand.

  4. To me, grief is a fascinating subject. People deal with it in so many ways, and when it's at its most profound I don't think anyone can help. You have to walk through it alone. I've never read anything by Julian Barnes.

  5. I haven't read either book you named, but aging is becoming more of an issue in my life. Everyone around me feels the same, but then I realize we're all at least twenty/thirty years into friendships. Weird how time can go so fast, even us at 7 years!

  6. It turns out that I have a lovely American first edition of Sounds of the Mountain. I didn't realize what I had. Picked it up at a used book store several years ago and forgot about it. I just finished reading Snow Country and posted my thoughts. Gorgeous language and images.

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