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A Healing Family Hardcover – November, 1996

7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Oe sets out here to document the life and contribution to the family of his son, Hikari, born in 1963 with a major malformation of his brain. Successfully operated on but left with residual brain damage, Hikari, who needs constant supervision, became a talented composer and irreplaceable focal point of his father's creativity. Despite its positive and loving message, this is a sad book, recounting the struggles of daily life with a brain-damaged child, the parents' frustrations and the acute feelings of failure and inadequacy that accompany them. Even as it attempts its honorable task, it has all the earmarks of a work knitted together from random and occasional pieces dealing with an important and moving subject: it frequently loses focus and drifts off down side tracks (discussion of differences among Japanese characters; forgetting money on an overseas trip). To make matters worse, the translation is awkward and stilted in a way that makes the reader grope for the voice of a writer whose brilliant fiction and stories won him the Nobel Prize for Literature. Students of Oe, familiar with his other works, may find significant insights here, but this offering will not likely be the book to win him fresh admirers. 50,000 first printing; author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Oe, winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize for literature, is best known to American readers for A Personal Matter (1970), The Silent City (Kodansha, 1994), and An Echo of Heaven (LJ 4/1/96). In his latest nonfiction work, Oe tells of his experiences for the last 33 years raising his brain-damaged son, Hikari, whom doctors had predicted would never be more than a vegetable. Despite Hikari's autism and frequent seizures, Oe and his wife gave him a nurturing environment that encouraged Hikari to become a contributing member of the family and to compose the music for two successful CDs. Oe writes with a self-effacing humility and humor that makes light of the considerable difficulties encountered in raising a handicapped child; he focuses instead on the joys and triumphs. His evident pride in Hikari's accomplishments shines throughout but especially when he discusses Hikari's musical interest and ability. Through glimpses into the family's life since Hikari's birth, we see a portrait emerging of how a severely handicapped person can transform the lives of those who care for him. This book affirms belief in the power of the family.?Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 146 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha International (JPN); 1st American Edition edition (November 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4770020481
  • ISBN-13: 978-4770020482
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #786,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 2, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Hard to believe that no one else has written a review of this book because it is excellent... Oe's manner of dealing with his son's affliction and the effects it has on his family is truly amazing... His manner is truly one of love and serenity.... Without any reservations, I recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about "heart"...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Augustus Caesar, Ph.D. on March 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
Kenzaburo Oe, the Japanese novelist who won the 1994 Nobel Prize for Literature, was 28 when his son, Hikari, was born. This event was the most important in Oe's life. Born with a herniated brain, Hikari has needed almost constant care since birth. "A Healing Family" is Oe's first non-fiction attempt to make sense of Hikari's life and the effect it has had on the people around him, most importantly his family.
This beautiful book shows the profound love, affection and pride the Oe family take in Hikari's accomplishments and happiness. From the age of five, Hikari has been obsessed with classical music, and eventually began to compose pieces for piano and violin. Much of "A Healing Family" concerns Oe's attempts to understand his son through music.
"A Healing Family" is a book everyone should read. Finely crafted, perceptive, intelligent and moving, it shows us again that compassion and empathy can make all the difference in the world.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Wanchain on October 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
My first book by Kenzaburo was Silent Cry. Recently I read A Healing Family and found that I really liked it a lot. Yukari's illustrations were beautiful. This book made me feel closer to Oe's family. It is very heart-warming.
At the time I read it, I was in the process of deciding whether to get my wisdom teeth extracted by a dentist or an oral surgeon. I heard that my face would be bruised and swollen, my jaws unhinged, etc. after the surgery. It was quite unnerving just to think about it. Then I read that Hikari has to make weekly visits to the dentist, and that his epileptic pills make his gum terribly swollen. I felt that I am in a much much better situation than some people. It was a consolation to read this book.
One thing I don't quite like about most of Kenzaburo's books is that he refers to a lot of other European writers and their works, which I find hard to understand. Well, that's just my ignorance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By The Professor on February 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
"A Healing Family" is a healing book. The spirit that pervades this book brings peace and calm, as it models acceptance of life when it does not go along with our well-made plans.

In this slender book, Kenzaburo Oe, the Nobel prize winner in literature, shares how his family is living a fine life, despite, or perhaps because of the fact that one member of the family, his son Hikari, has a somewhat severe mental handicap.

Kenzaburo's first reaction to the revelation that his son would always require a lot of care had been to run away. He was a young, ambitious, writer who had definite dreams and plans about his future, and those dreams and plans didn't include a mentally challenged son. He did not want this problem.

His attitude changed after some conversations with a Hiroshima survivor, a physician, who had lived through that horror and had cared for the wounded, for many years still. Somehow, through the friendship and conversations with this physician and others, Oe was able to realize that the only way to survive the terrible hand he was dealt was to accept what he had been given and deal with it as graciously and serenely as he could.

As he has gone about doing that, Oe has been the father that his son needed. His son Hikari has been able to enjoy life in the bosom of a loving family, and has developed his talent for composing music, and is enjoying life. In return, his son has become a creative focus of his life and writing. Kenzaburo Oe himself has been able to reach the highest peaks of recognition for a writer, winning the Nobel prize. But this book shows he has achieved even greater heights than that. He has become a very fine person, who shines through the writing. His book has a very healing effect on the human spirit.
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