In The Music of Light
, Lindsley Cameron chronicles the Japanese writer Kenzaburo Oe's remarkable relationship with his son Hikari. Although Hikari was born with a severe brain deformity that resulted in retardation, autism, near-blindness, and poor coordination, he has become an accomplished composer of classical music. Kenzaburo Oe, the winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize for Literature, has written much about Hikari and the rest of his family over the years. Cameron studies the intersections between Oe's life and work in this volume. She also discusses the nature of creativity, the scientific theories about brain injuries, and the history of musical savants.
Oe's close relationship with his son is unusual, especially in Japanese society, where men do not usually get very involved with raising their children. While helping Hikari deal with his health problems, the Oe family struggled to cope with their culture's severe discrimination against disabled people. Cameron describes Hikari's musical development and his amazing ability to memorize songs. Hikari's life story is an inherently fascinating one--a man who cannot express himself very well verbally somehow figured out how to do something most people cannot do: make up songs. Cameron interviewed both men and other family members for this book, and has done a good job of capturing their personalities on paper. Hikari and Kenzaburo Oe influence each other's work tremendously, and the elder Oe's writing and fame have had an enormous impact on the family's life. Fans of Kenzaburo Oe and people who are interested in the roots of creativity will find a lot to like in this book. --Jill Marquis
From Publishers Weekly
Born in 1963 with a severe brain hernia, composer Hikari Oe?son of Nobel Prize-winning Japanese novelist Kenzaburo Oe?was saved from death by an operation that left him brain-damaged and autistic. Today, Hikari, with an IQ measured at 65, limited speech faculties, a mental age of 12 and prone to epileptic seizures, nevertheless composes musical pieces that are mature and steeped in the Western classical idiom, and which have won him a worldwide following among CD collectors. A remarkable testament to the human spirit, Hikari's creative unfolding, as Cameron makes clear in this delicately written report, was made possible largely by Kenzaburo's all-consuming devotion, combined with constant, imaginative care from the child's mother. Freelancer Cameron sensitively uses Japanese culture to mirror American ambivalence toward the handicapped, and she documents the extraordinary degree to which Kenzaburo's involvement with his son has shaped the themes and direction of his own life and his fiction. Her inspirational account also draws on brain and cognitive research to help explain savants' singular gifts.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.