Happy Wednesday everyone! I hope that you are all doing well and are all healthy despite the risks that surround us. Things are starting to go back to normal although one should still throw caution in the air; the virus remains a threat. I hope that the pandemic will end soon. I am also praying that 2022 will be a year of hope, healing, and recovery for everyone. I hope that it will be a great year.
As it is a Wednesday, it is time for another WWW Wednesday update. WWW Wednesday is a bookish meme originally hosted by SAM@TAKING ON A WORLD OF WORDS. The mechanics for WWW Wednesday are quite simple, you just have to answer three questions:
- What are you currently reading?
- What have you finished reading?
- What will you read next?
What are you currently reading?
I have been quite invested in my journey across Japan through the works of Japanese literature. I am now in my fifth book for the month and my 60th for the yea, Mieko Kawakami’s latest translated novel, All The Lovers in the Night. Originally published in Japanese in 2011 as すべて真夜中の恋人たち (Subete mayonaka no koibitotachi), the novel introduces Fuyuko Irie, a woman in her early thirties who was working in a desk job. Her fate would be irreversibly altered by her encounter with an empowered woman named Hijiri, an editor who would be a catalyst in cracking the code that is Fuyuko. At the start of the novel, Fuyuko was aloof and impressionable. However, as the story moved forward, at least to the point I reached, one can get a feeling that there was something that was bothering her. What it is, I am yet to find out. Yes, there is a suggestion of romance somewhere as Fuyuko encountered Mitsutsuka. After Breasts and Eggs and Heaven, this is my third novel by Kawakami.
What have you finished reading?
Prior to this year, I have never read any of Ryu Murakami’s works although he has been under my radar for quite some time. After all, he is a Japanese writer and some of his works were listed as part of the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die List. From the Fatherland, with Love, however, was not one of those. This did not preclude me from obtaining a copy of the book earlier this year; do count me in any new adventure. Besides, the gas mask on the book’s cover piqued my interest. I did not, however, notice the two flags on the mask’s eyes, that of North Korea and Japan. This is important as the story revolved around these two countries. The crux of the story revolves around the invasion of the Japanese city of Fukuoka by a group of subversives referred to as the Koryo Expeditionary Force. Now for some context. The year is 2011. Japan has, over the years, weakened. Its economy, military power, and influence have all become irrelevant as it increasingly became reliant on the United States. It was a lapdog that opened opportunities for stronger powers. Interestingly, for a book that was supposed to be brimming with action, actions were rare and far in between as there was a preoccupation with bureaucracy. Nevertheless, it was an interesting portrait of bureaucracy. It was also a story about individuals rejected by society.
Earlier today, I completed my third novel written by Nobel Laureate in Literature Kenzaburō Ōe. To best honest, I was quite reluctant about reading any of his works but I eventually relented and in 2020, I finally read The Silent Cry, his first novel I read. I was deeply impressed by the story of a village and two brothers. Two years later, I completed my third novel by Ōe. I have an interesting anecdote about A Quiet Life. I actually thought that A Quiet Life was a different translation of a different Ōe novel, A Personal Matter, which is a deeply personal book about his son. Nevertheless, my realization was late as I have already started reading A Quiet Life. The novel, it seems, borrows elements from the writer’s life but the perspective is through his daughter, referred to as Ma-chan. It is about her relationship with her older brother, Eeyore, who was four years older than her and had special needs. While it explored a theme I encountered in my first two novels by Ōe, A Quiet Life was distinct. First, it is set in Tokyo. Second, the main character was female. The book was middling, not as impressive as The Silent Cry or Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids but it provided a different dimension of Ōe’s prose. Now, I am looking forward to reading A Personal Matter.
What will you read next?
After finishing All the Lovers in the Night, I am looking at reading my first novel by Masuji Ibuse with his novel, Black Rain. It was a book I randomly purchased but I am nonetheless looking forward to reading the book. I believe it is about the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima during the twilight days of the Second World War. After which, I plan to read my third novel by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, Quicksand. Like most Japanese writers, he is growing up on me with his exploration of the nuances of Japanese society and culture both post and pre-World War II. I am hoping that Quicksand will give me the same. Lastly, because I messed up, I am lining up yet another work by Nobel Laureate in Literature Kenzaburō Ōe but now I have the correct book. I have actually listed A Personal Matter as part of my 2022 Top 22 Reading List because I want to read more of the writer’s interiors through his deeply personal novel.
That’s it for this week’s WWW Wednesday. I hope you are all doing great. Happy reading and always stay safe! Happy Wednesday again!