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Starred Review. The story-within-a-story-within-a-story at the heart of this novel features a doomed, Wuthering Heights romance set in postwar Japan, with the 20th-century Heathcliff riding the Japanese-American economic wave. Concentric narratives connect and transform into a critical appraisal of commercial expansion and cultural decline. Narrator-novelist Minae begins by recalling her younger days as the daughter of a Japanese businessman on Long Island, where she meets 20-something Taro Azuma, then a chauffeur for an American. It's the 1960s, a time of opportunity. Years later, Minae meets Japanese émigré Yusuke who describes his encounter in the states with Azuma, now a wealthy man in mysterious seclusion. Yusuke also relates the life story of Fumiko, Azuma's friend. In a flashback to Japan, we see 17-year-old war orphan Fumiko working as a maid for a woman whose family, in 1956, takes the orphaned boy Azuma under its wing as part servant, part protégé. Azuma grows up hopelessly devoted to Yoko, the illness-prone daughter of Fumiko's employer. Yoko in turn loves but rejects Azuma, propelling him to America and prosperity, then back to Japan and to her. The Japanese tradition of burning fires for the dead suits the ghostly Brontë-esque finale, but far more notable are Minae's edgy insights into class distinctions, trans-Pacific cultures, and modernization's spiritual void. A transparent translation and the author's stylistic clarity smooth navigation between storylines. Photographs create the sense of browsing through an album—a nearly 900-page album encompassing two continents and several decades. (Nov.)
*Starred Review* Would Emily Brontë’s Heathcliff recognize Minae Mizumura’s Taro Azuma as his literary descendant? Mizumura launches this novel as a re-creation of Brontë’s classic Wuthering Heights set in twentieth-century Japan, and in Taro readers will see Heathcliff’s passionate intensity played out in a life trajectory that parallels Heathcliff’s in its defiant ascent from obscure origins and its obsessive but futile pursuit of an idealized woman who dies prematurely. But Taro confronts readers with complex questions totally outside Heathcliff’s world. For as he struggles to surmount obstacles in postwar Japan, Taro wrestles with the difficulties of preserving a rich cultural heritage in the aftermath of a crushing national defeat. Indeed, as Taro temporarily leaves Japan to pursue his fortunes in the land of the victors, readers see him jettisoning much of his heritage. (Sometimes Taro looks as much like Fitzgerald’s Gatsby as he does Brontë’s Heathcliff.) Above the perplexities besetting Taro, the readers see the daunting conundrums surrounding his creator, Mizumura, herself a character in her novel, grappling with the incompatibilities separating Japan’s own literary traditions from the potent innovations in Western styles of novelizing. Mizumura meets her literary challenge with impressive sophistication and irresistible emotional power, an accomplishment remarkably well conveyed to English-speaking readers by two gifted translators. --Bryce ChristensenSee all Editorial Reviews
I think it is an interesting story and enjoyed learning something about Japan about which I knew very little.Published 19 days ago by Judith W McKernon
This is a very interesting book in that it gives one great insight into Japan and the Japanese after WWII as they moved fro devastation into a period of great prosperity. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Deannanel
This book is very difficult to read. The author clearly did not edit for meaning. The transitions between the different sections of the book are very vague. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Karen Lee Roberts
This is a fine novel filled with interesting and complex characters. I think it is better than Wuthering Heights and well worth your time. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Jim Roche
An engrossing story of love and perseverance. A book you dread finishing.Published 4 months ago by hss
Defitley a book that would appeal t0
bruce Jenner. Gets ataarted on Frustrating!!!interesting starts aand doesm
t finish any of them.'t finish any.
Wonderful book. Quite long, but I was sorry when it ended. One of the best "deals of the day" ever! Read morePublished 5 months ago by Margaret Anthony
Sorry, I just didn't care for it. The first half of the book could have been skipped. In fact, I got to the point where I skimmed pages just to move on, with the hope that the... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Clare49