Wednesday, April 19, 2006


A novel by Naoya Shiga, a Japanese novelist, written mostly during the 1920s and completed only in 1937. Shiga's only full-length novel.

The protagonist, Kensaku, is a writer, and very sensitive and educated, with love for nature, art and local history. Unfortunately, he's also a troubled soul, being born out of an illegitimate union between his grandfather and his mother during his father's long stay abroad.

It was an open secret in the family and its close circles, but Kensaku knew about it only when he ineffectively tried to marry a girl of his choice from a family which was so intimate with his family.

The revelation comes as a shock, no doubt, but he rationalises the event, and can't hate his mother who died a long time ago. He simply shifts to a new house, and tries to live out his own way.

Then he marries. It proves to be a happy marriage, but once, when he was way from home, his wife Naoko, sleeps with her cousin, though under some compelling circumstances. Another big shock and crisis for Kensaku, and he decides to travel all by himself for a while.

While travelling in the mountains, he comes across a man who is wonderfully passionate about his wife who is kind of slut, and entertains many men at the same time.

Now, there might be a link among these three events, but there is no message as such. It's a very quiet novel, and the writer underplays it all in an amazing way. Life in the novel seems so much like the real life outside.

I've not read such a good novel in a long time.


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