Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme that was started by @Lauren’s Page Turners but is now currently being hosted by Emily @ Budget Tales Book Blog. This meme is quite easy to follow – just randomly pick a book from your to-be-read list and give the reasons why you want to read it. It is that simple.
This week’s book:
The House of Nire by Morio Kita
Blurb from Goodreads
The House of Nire will come as a surprise to readers who expect a Japanese novel to be a mixture of gloom and sensitivity. This one is unashamedly comic, and its view of human life derives from a warm curiosity that accepts the world as it is and wastes no time complaining about it. The book relates the history of the Nire family from the end of the First World War to the end of the Second. We meet Kiichiro Nire, founder not only of the family mental hospital but of the family itself, for he has changed their real name to something more sophisticated. Kiichiro, in all his vanity, selfishness, and absurdity, is one of the great comic creations of Japanese literature. His children, adopted children, grandchildren, and any number of hangers-on including a friendly but flabby Sumo wrestler whose career is going nowhere, form a cast of characters who, for all their oddities, tell us more about actual Japanese people and their lives than almost anything we have yet seen in English. And when, with the eventual fall of the House of Nire, the mood changes and the laughter dies away, one recognizes just how true to life this novel is and how involved in it one has become.
Why I Want To Read It
Just like that, we are nearly done with July, my birth month. Time does fly fast. Nevertheless, I hope you had a great start to the week and that you were able to establish your tempo for the rest of the week. I hope you were all able to rest and relax during the weekend in preparation for another tough week ahead. Monday, after all, is our, if not most of us, least favorite day of the week. I hope you are all doing well, in body, mind, and spirit. While there is a surge looming here in the Philippines, everyone seems to be relaxed about it. No one’s guard is up, it seems because everyone has already adjusted their mindset. With or without the virus, everyone is eager to resume their normal lives. It no longer matters what this new normal looks like. While I understand that protocols are in place, I hope that everyone still observes minimum health protocols. I just hope that the pandemic, with all its variants, will soon come to an end.
To kickstart the blogging week, I am posting a new Goodreads Monday update. Even before July started, I have resolved to read works of Japanese literature, a part of the literary world that I love going back to. A pilgrimage to exciting and most diverse spheres of literature has become part of my annual reading tradition. If my memory serves me right, this annual pilgrimage almost always has been during my birth month. I am reading Black Rain, my first novel written by Masuji Ibuse. It is no light read as it captured, in vivid and horrifying details, the impact and the consequences of the atomic bomb that landed on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Anyway, for this Goodreads Monday update, I am featuring another unfamiliar name, at least to me, Morio Kita, with one of his most popular works, The House of Nire.
I can recall obtaining a copy of The House of Nire while I was randomly browsing the “for sale” album of an online bookseller. I barely had any iota on who Kita was nor have I encountered any of his works. There was only one thing I knew for sure: it is a work of Japanese literature. I don’t even need to research about it; the book cover was a dead giveaway. Since I am such a big fan of Japanese literature, I bought the book without more preamble. One thing that I am glad of is that the book is a book of comedy, at least that is what the blurb says. It is somewhat a deviation from the typical work of Japanese literature I read, most of which explore dark and heavy subjects. It is intermittent that I come across a comic work of Japanese literature.
Another blurb says that is a parody of Thomas Mann (yes, the Nobel Prize in Literature winner from Germany). Although I am yet to read any of Mann’s works, I surmise that what is being parodied is The Magic Mountain. This was the first book that came to mind because the titular House of Nire is a family-run Tokyo mental hospital. The book is rather thick so I am not sure if I will be able to read it this month or even this year. Oh, I just learned that my copy of the book also contains the sequel to the novel, The Fall of the House of Nire. Also, I just learned that Morio Kita is a pseudonym used by Sokichi Saitō. Another interesting fact: Saitō is a psychiatrist. Now that is interesting.
How about you fellow reader? Are there works of Japanese literature you can recommend to me? I hope you can share it in the comment box.