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Grass For My Pillow Hardcover – October 15, 2002


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Editorial Reviews

From The New Yorker

This virtuosic novel was published in Japan in 1966. Its antiwar message is timely, but its delayed American appearance is bewildering, for the book is a cornucopia of delights. Its hero, Hamada, a just individual in an unjust society, was a draft dodger during the Second World War, skulking through the country under an assumed identity, repairing clocks and radios and selling sand paintings. Now middle-aged, with a young wife, he has settled into the dubious comforts of postwar prosperity as a clerk at a conservative university, but his past is catching up with him, and the stultifying pettiness of his workplace is interrupted by flashbacks of his life as a fugitive. He is complicatedly compromised; so is everyone around him, and the inescapably mixed nature of the characters' motives is delineated with wit, economy, and a consistent but ever-surprising compassion. Keene's translation dexterously reflects Maruya's linguistic exuberance.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker

Review

Understated yet powerfully effective.... Maryua's restrained prose mirrors the constriction of Hamada's thoughts and experience, while his amazing attention to detail renders an unquestionably real world for the narrative to exist within.

(Christine Thomas San Francisco Chronicle)

Many artists have either idealized pre-surrender Japan as a golden age untainted by Westernization or criticized the blind acceptance of military objectives, but Maruya refuses to gloss over the former or treat the latter as more enlightened.

(Village Voice)

Virtuosic... a cornucopia of delights... Keene's translation dexterously reflects Maruya's linguistic exuberance.

(The New Yorker)

A masterly realistic novel, and one of the best out of the Far East in many years.

(Kirkus)

This thoughtful book gives a wonderful insight into Japanese life, both the greater cultural beliefs that shape the society as a whole and the minutiae that preoccupy each individual. Entertaining, informative and compassionate, this is a very worthwhile read. A tribute must also be paid to the translator.

(Janet Mary Tomson The Historical Novels Review)

[A] complete artistic success [in] its riddling marrative method... precise, mysterious, and moving.

(Times Literary Supplement)
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