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A Personal Matter Paperback – January 13, 1994
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Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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About the Author
Nathan is the Takashima Professor of Japanese Cultural Studies at the University of California. He is also an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker.
Top Customer Reviews
This stark, haunting novel leaves the reader with a deep sense of both loss and hope, although the latter is more, in Bird's mind, "forbearance." Oe's honest treatment of this difficult subject matter is sensitive and skilled, understated in a way that emphasizes the magnitude of what Bird faces. John Nathan's translation provides smooth, beautifully-rendered prose.
The subject matter may be too depressing for some readers but should appeal to those interested in quality literature. The issues Oe tackles are significant, and his characters, deeply human. A PERSONAL MATTER is an unforgettable novel not to be missed.
Bird, the main character of the novel, is a 27-year old man in a failing marriage. He teaches at a cram school and dreams of escaping to Africa. He is drifting through a life that has no meaning or direction (not that he bothers). The birth of his brain-damaged son forces him to face the question "what is the right thing to do for me?". He dodges the question as long as he can, plunging headlong into a drinking binge, a sexual affair, and eventually a scheme to have his son killed by a quack doctor. But the question does not go away. It is his very own personal matter. No one can help him. The question corners him (not surprisingly, several scenes of the novel prominently feature blind alleys), and finally he finds HIS answer. Or rather, the answer finds him - he did not consciously look for it.
More than anything that is impressive about this novel - the evocation of a stifling atmosphere, the restrained, matter-of-fact tone of the narrator, the stark realism, the depiction of the sense of shame and horror that the birth of a handicapped child evokes in the Japanese - more than all these things I admired how Oe managed to convey a sense of the unconscious humanity of the man Bird (who, after all, does not live up to any moral standards when he begins an affair while, at the same time, his wife is about to give birth in hospital).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is incredibly dark, it isn't a fun read, but Jesus Christ Oe is an amazing writer. The book is incredibly dense, every book and author Oe mentions throughout connects to... Read morePublished 21 days ago by Mitchell St.John
Cultural barriers may have proved insurmountable to my appreciation of the novel. The misogynistic main character had no redeeming values and the story was sometimes disgustingly... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Maggie P
This used copy was brown, musty and dusty. As a matter of fact I traveled with it in my bag and the bag was pulled aside by TSA and the book was tested! Truly!! Read morePublished 9 months ago by Mary Hutchens
I read this book as the monthly suggestion of the Wall Street Journal book club. Would I have ever read it on my own? No Did I enjoy it? Not really sure. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Loretta Parker
I didn't care for it, in fact, thought it was repulsive. Bird was a very unlikable character.Published 10 months ago by Mary Ann McLachlan
This was the Wall Street Journal book group selection for September 2015. With personal, poignant, and powerful insight into a devastating struggle, the author has written a small,... Read morePublished 10 months ago by J Wags
This is a brave book about the darkest, ugliest, but universal dimension of human psyche, written with perfection. Read morePublished 12 months ago by whj