Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Buy New
$12.92
Qty:1
  • List Price: $14.00
  • Save: $1.08 (8%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Temporarily out of stock.
Order now and we'll deliver when available.
Order now and we'll deliver when available. We'll e-mail you with an estimated delivery date as soon as we have more information. Your account will only be charged when we ship the item.
Details
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
Somersault (OE, Kenzaburo... has been added to your Cart
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

Somersault (OE, Kenzaburo) Paperback – December 3, 2003

3.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

See all 6 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
$12.92
$5.83 $0.22

The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
"The Nest" by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance. Learn more | See author page
$12.92 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available. We'll e-mail you with an estimated delivery date as soon as we have more information. Your account will only be charged when we ship the item. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

  • Somersault (OE, Kenzaburo)
  • +
  • Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness: The Day He Himself Shall Wipe My Tears Away, Prize Stock, Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness, Aghwee the Sky Monster
Total price: $23.86
Buy the selected items together


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Writing a novel after having won a Nobel Prize for Literature must be even more daunting than trying to follow a brilliant, bestselling debut. In Somersault (the title refers to an abrupt, public renunciation of the past), Kenzaburo Oe has himself leapt in a new direction, rolling away from the slim, semi-autobiographical novel that garnered the 1994 Nobel Prize (A Personal Matter) and toward this lengthy, involved account of a Japanese religious movement. Although it opens with the perky and almost picaresque accidental deflowering of a young ballerina with an architectural model, Somersault is no laugh riot. Oe's slow, deliberate pace sets the tone for an unusual exploration of faith, spiritual searching, group dynamics, and exploitation. His lavish, sometimes indiscriminate use of detail can be maddening, but it also lends itself to his sobering subject matter, as well as to some of the most beautiful, realistic sex scenes a reader is likely to encounter. --Regina Marler --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Nobelist Oe's giant new novel is inspired by the Aum Shinrikyo cult, which released sarin gas in Tokyo's subway system in 1995. Ten years before the novel begins, Patron and Guide, the elderly leaders of Oe's fictional cult, discover, to their horror, that a militant faction of the organization is planning to seize a nuclear power plant. They dissolve the cult very publicly, on TV, in an act known as the Somersault. Ten years later, Patron decides to restart the fragmented movement, after the militant wing kidnaps and murders Guide, moving the headquarters of the church from Tokyo to the country town of Shikoku. Patron's idea is that he is really a fool Christ; in the end, however, he can't escape his followers' more violent expectations. Oe divides the story between Patron and his inner circle, which consists of his public relations man, Ogi, who is not a believer; his secretary, Dancer, an assertive, desirable young woman; his chauffeur, Ikuo; and Ikuo's lover, Kizu, who replaces Guide as co-leader of the cult. Kizu is a middle-aged artist, troubled by the reoccurrence of colon cancer. Like a Thomas Mann character, he discovers homoerotic passion in the throes of illness. Oe's Dostoyevskian themes should fill his story with thunder, but the pace is slow, and Patron doesn't have the depth of a Myshkin or a Karamazov-he seems anything but charismatic. It is Kizu and Ikuo's story that rises above room temperature, Kizu's sharp, painterly intelligence contrasting with Ikuo's rather sinister ardor. Oe has attempted to create a sprawling masterpiece, but American readers might decide there's more sprawl than masterpiece here.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE


Product Details

  • Series: OE, Kenzaburo
  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (December 3, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802140459
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802140456
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #211,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"Somersault" by Kenzoburo Oe is an unusual novel for my own reading habits, though one that has a lot of appeal. Being interested in religion and spirituality, I was curious to see what he had to offer and say.

The novel follows a few characters, but they are all quickly joined together in the midst of the beginning of the Church of the New Man. Patron, the church's founder and leader, spent 10 years alone with his religious partner Guide, after they had done a "Somersault" and had claimed their old movement was all a big joke. The rise of a radical faction within that old movement prompted this dramatic event. It is the regathering of old followers and new that occupies much of the narrative of the book.

The book is filled with long dialogues and monologues, as characters' struggles and understandings of the Somersault, themselves, Patron, faith and God are all covered in this way. This means that monologues can run for a couple of pages as characters relate their pasts, their hopes, or Patron deals with his view of events.

It has been commented that the book lacks detail with the teaching of the movements. While the detail is rather sparse, there is enough content given to form some understanding of the main points of the church's doctrine and teaching. This develops through the book, a good example being the nature of Patron. The theme of repentance, renunciation of the world, trust in Patron, visions, prayer and so on are all there. The use of Biblical texts and some others are also there. For some more theologically minded readers, maybe more detail would have been nice, but the book certainly does not suffer for the lack of it.

Oe has dealt with a lot of different themes, and different ones will stand out to different people.
Read more ›
Comment 8 of 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
I just finished reading Somersault. Several interesting themes emerge.

First, on a sociological level, it seems that Oe is fascinated, even obsessed, by groups. Almost all of the characters belong to a group: the Quiet Women, the Technicians, the office staff, the Fireflies. Even the quasi-individualistic Kizu is first and foremost generically "a professor." Characters in this novel are always strongly identified with the group to which they belong. Strong individuals such as Gii emerge as leaders of a group. Is this emphasis on groups a Japanese thing, or is it uniquely Oe?

Keeping in the sociological theme, I think Oe paints Japanese society as chock full of forbearance. All the characters tolerated each other and tried to understand why all of the other characters did what they did. They all helped each other and were thoughtful to each other's needs. Nobody was mean-spirited. Even the strong-willed characters Gii and Ikuo were, at heart, incredibly nice people. Dancer was very polite throughout. Kizu was a kindly old professor. Ogi, the Innocent Youth, is the archetype example of niceness. Even the folks who tortured Guide were quickly forgiven. Is this emphasis on polite behavior, too, a Japanese or an Oe-centric thing?

On the deeper, religious level I think it was always Oe's intent to leave the religious message from Patron deliberately ambiguous. In fact, the ambiguity of spiritualism is the take-home message of the novel.

How is this manifested in the book? Well, the vast majority of the principal players: Ogi, Dancer, Kizu, Gii, Guide himself, have no real religious conviction and are just drawn into Patron's inner circle via his cult of personality or (in the cases of Gii and Kizu) for ulterior reasons.
Read more ›
1 Comment 2 of 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
This book is beautiful. It's not fast-pased; it's not thrilling; it's not edge-of-your-seat exciting. But it is beautiful. The writing is poetic and I found myself, as a writer, inspired and transfixed by the prose.
Comment 3 of 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
I get frustrated with reviewers who admit ignorance about Japanese religious beliefs, and Japanese history, then diss a book which requires it. Plus knowledge of the Book of Jonah in the Christian bible. And obscure Welsh poets. Generally people read a Nobelist for something more than they find in Dean Koontz, incidentaly also a religious type of writer. The book is not my Oe favorite ( that one is "Changling".) But it grew on me as the hints that another religious assasination was in the offing. It seemed to run like a very bizzare dream..quick takes not apparently connected with each other. Professor Kizu is , when I think about it, one of the more amazing characters in recent fiction.Everyone else is joining the religion for what they call philosophical or religious reasons Dealing with "god" and repentance and the end of the world.He follows someone he loves into what he has a pretty good idea won't turn out well just to be with him. Challenging and requires patience. And some heart.
Comment 1 of 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?