Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Study Abroad Japan: Book Review - Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata

Title: Snow Country
Author: Yasunari Kawabata Translated by Edward Seidensticker
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing
Details: 172 pages, 1957, Paperback, Two parts
ISBN: 4805306351

White powder, spilt sake, cold hands & a woman's charm

Review by JapaneseCustomer

Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

A historic novel set in the snow country on the main island of Honshu. Yasunari Kawabata, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, takes the reader back in time around the early 1900's to a relationship between an older man and a young geisha at a hot spring town that occurs over many years in rural Japan.

The story has three main characters, Shimamura a wealthy dilettante, Yoko a local woman and Komako, one of the hot springs contracted geisha. Set in the winter over many seasons, the characters slowly come to life and the complex relationships between them are revealed. The references to nature, the local area and the harsh effects of the weather place the reader in a cozy seat.

Random ideas and topics jump out at the reader some are detailed some are passing but all weave together to share insights. A powerful novel that not only portrays daily life but delves deep into culture, painting it slowly and carefully across a beautiful landscape of snow and nature. As the snow touches the countryside so will each of the characters in their own important way.

The novel shares Japanese culture to western readers particularly the types of relationships between men & women, social class, loneliness, money's role in people's lives and the challenges of love.

Rating: 4/5 ****

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