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The Ark Sakura (Vintage International) Paperback – February 10, 2009


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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage International
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (February 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307389634
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307389633
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #935,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Abe's first novel in eight yearsan allegorical fantasy at once Kafkaesque, funny and apocalpyticdazzles even when it may confuse. The principal character, nicknamed Mole, has converted a huge underground quarry into an "ark" capable of surviving the coming nuclear holocaust and is now in search of his "crew." He falls victim, however, to the wiles of his first crew members, a con man-cum-insect dealer and his two shills, one of them a pretty young woman. In the surreal drama that ensues, the ark is invaded by a gang of youths and a sinister group of elderly people called the Broom Brigade, led by Mole's odious father, while Mole gets his leg trapped in the ark's central piece of equipment, a giant toilet powerful enough to flush almost anything, including chopped-up humans, out to sea. Abe (The Woman in the Dunes, The Box Man), generally considered Japan's leading novelist, is a literary magician with a very special bag of tricks. Among them is a deadpan matter-of-factness that gives his chilling vision of human destiny much of its impact.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Most of Abe's fiction is about escapes that fail and about people who, failing to escape, evaporate into their own alienation and despair. This novel, his first in eight years, raises no hope for a happier resolution. Mole, the grotesquely fat narrator, seeks refuge from nuclear annihilation and hopes to sell tickets to a selected crew needed for his "ark." In fact, Mole's ark is an abandoned underground quarry, a vast, Piranesi-like complex. But nothing works out as he hoped. His crew usurps his authority and perverts his purpose. Unexpected intruders confound expectation, and Mole becomes trapped in the novel's central metaphoran enormous and powerful toilet. Abe's imagination is vivid but harsh. Yet although the novel torments the mind and heart, it compels unswerving attention. Arthur Waldhorn, City Coll., CUNY
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By spooky on January 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A truly weird and amusing novel, Ark Sakura by Kobo Abe (The Woman in the Dunes) has the extraordinary ability to abolish your everyday reality in favor of its vivid, voyeuristic depiction of the bizarre consequences of an utterly unsupervised reality, a twisted kindergarten of mad adults, ungoverned and unpredictable. the Mole has retreated, along with his disturbing family background and unpleasant appearance, into a secret world beneath the crust of Japan, and in these dank, reverberating caverns of an abandoned underground quarry has been able to rejuvenate his despairing perspectives by creating a smaller living world from the refuse of another greater world, utterly self-sufficient, certainly more than capable of surviving and surviving well any imminent global apocalypse. setting off into the common life above ground, having decided it is time to consider populating his subterranean ark in preparation for the expected catastrophe, Mole encounters a peculiar group of human cast-offs, all becoming irrevocably enmeshed in a strange and surreal tale that is a beautiful open sore in the skin of the human condition. admirers of Beckett will be unable to resist Kobo Abe's magnificent ability to evoke situations and settings at the same time vast and apparently endless, yet isolating and confining; fantastic prisons of the exiled and forgotton.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Henry Platte on March 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
Thematically, this novel is similar to Abe's more famous book, 'The Woman in the Dunes;' it emphasizes a sense of community and connection with others. What I like about it (among other things) is that it's hardly a sledgehammer philosophical message; it allows for vaguery. The main character is a misanthrope whose personal philosophy seems to be the target of criticism, yet he is never overtly punished and is capable of questioning his views. The other characters are liars, criminals and dirty old men, but all are made sympathetic to some degree in the face of global holocaust. As far as the writing goes, it is very straightforward. I think Abe does an amazing job of both developing character and allowing the reader to visualize such an outlandish setting as the Ark.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By gac1003 on November 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
Pig, who prefers to be called Mole, has taken up residence in an abandoned stone quarry, slowly converting it into an ark to save humanity during the inevitable nuclear holocaust. He has room for a little over 300 people to become his crew, but must be selective in his choosing. Only those who he deems acceptable will be offered safe harbor in his huge ship.
During one of his few outings to buy provisions for the ark, he comes across Komono, an insect dealer, and after lunching with him, offers one of the keys to the ark. Komono asks if he can think on it and walks off to use the bathroom. In the meantime, two sakura, or shills, trick Mole into giving up two keys. They immediately make a run for the ark, followed by Komono and Mole in hot pursuit. When they reach the ark, they discover that they are not alone in the depths of the quarry.
The remainder of the book discusses a wide variety of topics from old age in the form of the Broom Brigade, environmentalism, survivalism, murder, loyalty, sex, humanity and nuclear devastation. More and more chaacters are added as the book progresses, each with a different story to tell, making it difficult to follow along and unenjoyable to read. I still am not sure exactly what point the author is trying to make with this novel, or even if there is a point to it. The characters themselves were not believable to me, especially Mole, a big, fat man who is obsessed with the end of the world and the female shill's behind, continually wanting to pat it even when his life is in danger.
The only saving grace for me is Abe's writing. He has a very fluid style that's descriptive and easy to read. But, with the piling on of characters and story lines, I can't say that I would add this to a must-read list.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
Story of a man preparing for that dark day of the apocalypse. The Ark itself was prepared to be a safe haven if/when it occured. The main character is a very interesting character. He seems nice, yet obesessed with Doomsday.
This in turned affects the rest of the other characters, and eventually persuaded them into thinking that the end has come while inside....
Why did Abe call it the Ark "sakura?" I believe that it elegantly captured the theme of deceiving others, and the dangers of believing such lies. And yet, sakura also means cherry blossom, which suggests something beautiful, lovely and fragile. Perhaps Kobo wished to show us how life is so beautiful and fragile, but yet somehow needs deception in order to be shown its value. And the preciousness of life, that we all must cherish.
*********************
sakura* decoy
sakura cherry blossom; cherry tree
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Format: Paperback
The Ark Sakura is a wonderfully bizarre novel. Mole (AKA Pig) lives in the vast underground maze of an abandoned mine, which he likens to a ship. There he has made preparations to survive a nuclear holocaust. But every ship needs a crew, so periodically Mole goes out to identify and recruit those he deems worthy of boarding his Ark. Very few are, and in fact our story begins right about the time Mole, on the spur of the moment, finally hands out his first boarding pass. This to an insect dealer, or more accurately to a con man selling fake insects. Trouble is the con's two shills have managed to make off with another boarding pass (key and map). Mole and the insect dealer race back to the Ark hoping to beat the shills there, but failing. What follows is an amazing and surreal story. As the men engage in a power struggle, for which the prize seems to be the female shill; as the female shill struggles to play one against the other in order to keep herself from becoming a prize; as new characters are introduced, and histories revealed Abe's theme becomes clearer. These disparate characters, all with their own histories, their own reasons, share one thing; they all belong to the fringes of society. The Ark Sakura is a novel about alienation, and above all the deep, all consuming nature of loneliness.
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