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Isle of Dreams (Japanese Literature (Dalkey)) Paperback – December 7, 2010
In Twenty Years: A Novel
When five college roommates gather after twenty years, can the rifts between them be repaired? Learn More
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From Publishers Weekly
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“In this novel, the metropolis of Tokyo is a living creature. Within its inner workings, skyscrapers and massive overpasses alike are born and grow, continually breathing, panting, trembling, maturing, and developing cracks.” (Masashi Miura)
Top Customer Reviews
Dalkey Archive, 2010
translated by Charles de Wolf
I've lived in Tokyo for almost a decade now and it often seems to me that, although thirty million people live in Tokyo, almost no one looks at it. This book attracted me first because it aims to look. I was also enchanted by its first paragraph, which seemed to me the way all books ought to begin -
"When our consciousness begins to change, for better or for worse, events around us seem to fall in line, starting with mere coincidences, hardly worth noting. Of course, how could it be otherwise?"
What follows is the tale of a widower wandering in Tokyo's reclaimed land: a wasteland built from waste. He nearly gets run down by a woman on a motorcycle and begins a journey through the heart (or guts) of Tokyo.
I live in Tokyo and read endlessly; some of my friends are literature professors or translators, yet I had never heard of this book and, when I try to speak of it to people, I nearly always get a blank look. Yet it is a stunningly strange and interesting book and one of many reasons to be grateful to the Dalkey Archive Press.
Certainly it is not a book for everyone. To whom do I recommend it? To architects, ecologists, and anyone obsessed with Tokyo, mannequins, or trash. Also to fans of Kafka, J.G. Ballard, Joseph Conrad. It is essential for anyone interested in ecological literature - though it certainly provides no obvious moral!
A bit of advice: the first half dozen chapters have a peculiar awkwardness and artificiality that will make sense - but only in retrospect. Persist!
I think I'd rather have had Margaret Atwood's take - a Western take. I struggle with the Japanese world-view, as refracted through the prism of literature, but this 20th century Baudelaire definitely out-Tejus Cole in the flaneur department, in the depth of his concerns. Preposterous - though in 1988 it was just possible to imagine the tide of concrete being arrested - but powerful