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The Diving Pool: Three Novellas Paperback – Deckle Edge, January 22, 2008

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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 164 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 1st edition (January 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312426836
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312426835
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #201,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this first book-length translation into English, Japanese author Ogawa's three polished tales demonstrate her knack for a crafty, suspenseful hook. Each is narrated in the listless, emotionally remote voice of a young woman, such as the high schooler of the title story whose infatuation with her foster brother, Jun, prompts her to obsessively observe his diving practice. As the daughter of religious parents who run an orphanage, Aya feels alienated from the workings of the so-called Light House and finds an outlet for her frustration in romantic fantasy about Jun as well as in tormenting—shockingly—an orphan baby. The underhandedly creepy Dormitory is narrated by a Tokyo wife who begins nursing the ailing, armless one-legged manager at her old college dormitory. The manager's increasingly alarming tale of love for one of the renters, now vanished, enthralls the wife. Pregnancy Diary offers a bit of levity, narrated by a young unmarried woman whose rage toward her pregnant sister take the form of cooking her grapefruit jam prepared from fruit treated with a chromosome-altering chemical. Ogawa's tales possess a gnawing, erotic edge. (Feb.)
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"Yoko Ogawa is able to give expression to the most subtle workings of human psychology in prose that is gentle yet penetrating."--Kenzaburo Oe, Nobel Prize-winning author of A Personal Matter


"Three beautifully-drawn and genuinely eerie stories. Each one builds an image that you can't quite shake out of your mind."--Aimee Bender, author of The Girl in the Flammable Skirt


"What a strange and compelling little volume this is. Yoko Ogawa's fiction is like a subtle, psychoactive drug. Long after you read it, The Diving Pool will remain with you, shifting your vision, eroding your composure, raising questions about even the most seemingly conventional people you encounter. Her gift is to both reveal and preserve the mystery of human nature."--Kathryn Harrison, bestselling author of The Kiss


"Ogawa is original, elegant, very disturbing. I admire any writer who dares to work on this uneasy territory--we're on the edge of the unspeakable. The stories seem to penetrate right to the heart of the world and find it a cold and eerie place. There are no narrative tricks, but the stories generate a surprising amount of tension. You feel as if you’ve touched an icy hand."--Hilary Mantel, author of Beyond Black

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Customer Reviews

It's a mystery tale, a gothic horror story, and yet also a personal soliloquy.
Jamie S. Rich
If you're in the mood for something that will disturb and shock you from your daily routine, definitely think about reading this book.
I rated Diving Pool at 3 stars, Pregnancy Diary at 4 stars, and Dormitory at 5 stars.
Christopher Barrett

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Crazy Fox on March 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
When in doubt, start at the beginning. It only makes sense then that the first book-length translation of fiction by Ogawa Yoko should include three short stories (or "novellas" [sic]) from the years 1990 and 1991, around the time her writing career was just kicking in. And while showing traces of a new writer just getting her bearings in the Japanese literary world, all three stories really stick with you. "The Diving Pool" and "Pregnancy Diary" are quietly chilling and enormously disquieting in their unsentimental and frank exploration of the streak of wanton cruelty and stifled but simmering resentment lurking in the psyches of ordinary, everyday people--a minister's teenage daughter with a girlhood crush and a part-time worker living with her pregnant sister and brother-in-law. Like a good writer, Ogawa shows rather than tells. She is incredibly adroit at using sensual data to get her point across and move the tale along, and the sicky-sweet and sometimes stomach-churning array of tastes, smells, and textures she weaves into her narrative communicates volumes to the attentive reader and lures them inexorably into a virtual synesthetic experience not so welcome in the final analysis.

After traipsing through the heart of darkness in humdrum urban Tokyo with these first two stories, you're then easily faked out by "Dormitory," which seems to be falling in the same direction but then throws you for a loop. An offbeat little sketch of a tale, not a single element is jarringly implausible in a discernibly empirical sense and yet the total effect is nonetheless unmistakably surreal. In this as well as a few recognizably typical tropes (inexplicable disappearance, for instance), it could almost be read as a homage to or parody of Murakami Haruki.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jamie S. Rich on March 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
I have been dying for some more Ogawa ever since I read two of her short stories in The New Yorker over two years ago and instantly fell for her prose. A novel that was supposed to come out last year never arrived, and it's been one long tease.

Ogawa writes with unfettered, graceful prose that is seductive in its softness and simplicity, lending even more shock value to her dark subjects. In the title story, a young girl who grew up in the orphanage run by her parents has grown obsessed with the only boy to ever live there long enough to reach high-school age, and her unfulfilled passions start to emerge in acts of cruelty directed at the home's newest and youngest member. It's disturbing without being exploitative and grotesque.

Amidst the calm writing are often wonderful images, such as a snow storm inside the house or lines like "He reappears out of the foam, the rippling surface of the water gathering up like a veil around his shoulders...." Ahhhhh.

The second story, "The Pregnancy Diaries," tackles a somewhat commonplace subject in a unique way. A woman keeps a journal chronicling her sister's pregnancy, writing about it in terms evocative of science fiction and horror. Yet, Ogawa does so without straining the metaphor or using obvious language.

The final story, "Dormitory," details a woman's return to the spartan housing that was her college apartment, and the strange triple-amputee landlord that lives there. It's a mystery tale, a gothic horror story, and yet also a personal soliloquy. The final image shows her reaching directly in the complex patterns that connect all life.

Wonderful stuff. Deep, yet reads like a breeze. Loved it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Harkius VINE VOICE on April 8, 2009
Format: Paperback
A collection of disturbing stories by one of Japan's foremost contemporary writers, Yoko Ogawa mines the same headspace as Haruki Murakami and Natsuo Karino, with much different results. Whereas Haruki Murakami's protagonist, Boku, is typically a thirty-something, dissatisfied, disconnected, but generally good male, searching for he-knows-not-what, and Natsuo Kirino's violent female protagonists searching for power in the only ways that they know how. Yoko Ogawa's creations are cruel, but only because they can see no other options.

I notice from Crazy Fox's review that I am not the only one to connect Murakami and Ogawa. Crazy Fox suggests, "a few recognizably typical tropes (inexplicable disappearance, for instance), it could almost be read as a homage to or parody of Murakami Haruki. And yet one can't shake the sense that Ogawa is pursuing similar themes of alienation and resentment in a slightly different register here in a way all her own," which I heartily agree with. I disagree, though, that the endings are unconvincing or that the cruelty herein is exaggerated. I think that the characters in this book (Aya, the unnamed part-time worker, and the triple amputee), are desperately reaching out to the world around them, perhaps in the only way that they can. As cheindemer suggests in a review largely identical to Yoko Ogawa's Wikipedia article, "her characters often don't seem to know why they're doing what they are," but this is precisely the point. They don't understand their cruelty. They don't understand why they can't reach out with love, and why their attempts to do so are rebuffed, or meaningless.
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