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The Shadow of a Blue Cat (Japanese Literature)by Naoyuki II
Synopses & Reviews
Businessman Yuki Yajima is fifty-one years old. He and his wife, Asako, are the parents of two daughters: Ryo, seventeen, and Yuka, an infant of only two months. Asking himself why he's allowed himself to become a father again at his age, Yuki begins to remember his uncle, who died quite young--younger, indeed, than Yuki is now. Thinking of this man, whom the young Yuki idolized, and who first introduced the boy to authors like Kenzaburō Ōe and the Marquis de Sade, serves as a strange tipping point: allowing a sense of chaos and complexity back into his otherwise well-heeled life. A rare work of fiction focused simply on a man of integrity--a dying breed, in novels--The Shadow of a Blue Cat meticulously renders his life and opinions as Yuki tries to find a middle path between the radicalism of his uncle's life and the quiet bourgeois home he's worked so hard to build.
From The Shadow of a Blue Cat:
"Perhaps I should start with a disclaimer. I am not some fresh-faced kid of seventeen or twenty, or even a relatively green thirty, which some people actually argue should be considered below the age of majority these days. No, the fact is, I've already slid right on past the big five-oh--a milestone no one thinks is very pretty and few are eager to reach--to become a man of fifty-one. Now if a reader were to say that it's unsettling to have someone who's passed the half-century mark presenting himself as the narrator of a novel styled after the young writers of a generation ago, I would have to agree he has a point. But however much I may agree, I expect to press ahead in exactly such a style, for as I struggle to come to terms with my fifty-something self, it has become all too uncomfortably clear to me that a style more suited to a man my age simply does not exist."
"In this bittersweet and satisfying novel, 51-year-old Yuki Yajima contemplates the events that have led to his recently having become the father of a two-month-old, his unplanned second child born 17 years after his first daughter. Yuki, who has 'a tendency to forget that institutions and laws are merely a thin outer shell covering the living bodies and myriad desires that lie underneath,' revisits three main periods of his past: the summer in his teens when he visited his bachelor uncle; his early employed life alongside Ogita, a college friend who would later betray him; and the past year of his life, in which Yuki discovers that Ogita is dying of cancer and Yuki's teenage daughter starts hanging out with a guy Yuki doesn't approve of. As the narrative cycles through layers of time, what emerges is a ruminative and deliberate (some might call it slow) portrait of a man who does his best to think things through and forge ahead despite life's disappointments and curveballs. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A modern story about a decent man.
About the Author
After graduating from Keio University, Naoyuki Ii made his debut in 1983 with Kusakanmuri (The Grass Radical), which won the Gunzo Prize for New Writers.
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