Kobo Abe doesn't get mentioned enough in discussions on Japanese literature, although it seemed like he was pretty influential in the 1960's and 70's. He reads sort of like a more clinical Franz Kafka. I don't know if it is an issue with the translation, but his writing doesn't really come across as anything more than direct and serviceable, but the ideas behind his novels are innovative and radically different from the Japanese authors of his generation.
Woman in the Dunes is his most well-known work, and a good entry point if you're interested in his style and approach. Imagine No Exit with sand.
The Face of Another and The Ruined Map are Abe's masterpieces, they read like film-noir existentialism, with detective protagonists, femme-fatales (femmes-fatale?) and slowly unwinding stories of mounting surreal dread. While these two showcase the author at his most disciplined, I prefer a couple of his more left field works:
The Ark Sakura The gooniest protagonist in literature, Cold-War paranoia, an insect that exists by pivoting on its stomach and eating its own feces in a perfect 24-hour cycle, and a sinister patrol of elderly street sweepers.
Inter Ice Age Four A computer that can predict the future (maybe?) a murdered stranger, the ecological destruction of the world, and the coming commercialized reality of genetic engineering.
Also: The protagonist of The Box Man spends pretty much the entire novel inside a cardboard box. His most challenging and funny novel.
|# ¿ Dec 14, 2009 20:09|
|# ¿ May 24, 2013 21:47|