takkaisamma, May 20, 2013 (view all comments by takkaisamma)
Abe-san depicted one of the deeper moral concerns that never fails to surprise Westerners. In Japan, despite the polite protocols, if one is not part of a person's contingent circle, do not expect help. Even if you are flat on your face in the street. The Good Samaritan has not made it to Japan. This story is same boat, different ocean.
The morals of anonymity are particularly interesting right now for all points on the globe given the anonymity of the Internet where people say outrageous, slimy things because they don't have to look their correspondents in the eyes. This book has a fabulous premise along those lines of moral responsibility and to whom. The black and white film (available through Netflix) is one of the best movies I've ever seen in any language. If you've never read JLit, this is a great place to start for artistry and social commentary. Abe-san was one of the last of the great Moderns.
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Lainie, September 26, 2006 (view all comments by Lainie)
Like a bad dream any imagination can identify with, Abe's story is at once beautiful and terrifying. Feeling trapped has never had this spin. Read this book with a glass of cold water nearby.
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by The New York Times Book Review,
"Abe follows with meticulous precision his hero's constantly shifting physical, emotional and psychological states. He also presents...everyday existence in a sand pit with such compelling realism that these passages serve both to heighten the credibility of the bizarre plot and subtly increase the interior tensions of the novel."
by The New Yorker,
“As is true of Poe and Kafka....Abe creates on the page an unexpected impulsion. One continues reading, on and on.”
by David Mitchell,
“Devious, addictive....Never less than compulsive....Abe is an accomplished stylist.”
by Saturday Review,
"Some of Kobo Abe's readers will recall Kafka's manipulation of a nightmarish tyranny of the unknown, others Beckett's selection of sites like the sand pit...as a symbol of the undignified human predicament."
One of the premier Japanese novels of the twentieth century, The Women in the Dunes combines the essence of myth, suspense, and the existential novel. In a remote seaside village, Niki Jumpei, a teacher and amateur entomologist, is held captive with a young woman at the bottom of a vast sand pit where, Sisyphus-like, they are pressed into shoveling off the ever-advancing sand dunes that threaten the village.
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