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Toraware Paperback – January 22, 2006
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
"Toraware" goes beyond the "gaijin" experience....[Norris] manages to evoke the rootlessness felt by young Japanese uncertain about their future. -- The Japan Times, May 12, 1998
Crafted in excellent style and patiently honed....The Japanese characters are wholly convincing....The ambivalence and spiritual guilt of Yoshiko, one of the tragic heroines of Toraware, about an abortion she underwent years ago, is perfectly captured....[Norris has] captured the unassuagable melancholy at the deepest core of the Japanese soul [and] succeeded in convincing us of the reality of [his] vision. -- Kansai Time Out, November 1998 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Author
The Japanese word "toraware" has several idiomatic usages relating to being obsessed, captured, shackled, or tangled up by something. It also is used in psychiatric circles to describe a form of obsessive behavior. In this novel I tried to probe the psychological states of three characters from extremely different cultures and backgrounds as they interact in an intense relationship that ultimately leads them toward the separate life paths they must follow. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Toraware is the story of three people living in Japan trying to find their place in the world. Harlan is a writer and a Vietnam War veteran in his early thirties who is unsure what he wants exactly out of life. He has come to Japan to teach English and to experience a new culture. While there he's met two women who are also trying to find themselves and each has become connected to Harlan. Sachiko has fallen for Harlan and his writing but her feelings are not reciprocated. Sachiko has her own dark past and her own issues to work through and has a hard time dealing with rejection. Yoshiko and Harlan have a much closer relationship, but Harlan will not open up to her. Yoshiko is also fairly promiscuous, has an alcohol problem and also has a dark past stemming from psychological issues.
Toraware is the tale of a universal need for acceptance. As I mentioned before, we've seen these themes in other works, but they are presented beautifully here. Norris' words match the beauty of the Japanese landscapes that he describes. You can tell that Norris has spent quite a bit of time in Japan as reading the novel is somewhat of a study in the culture of Japan. I thoroughly enjoyed that aspect of the novel as Japan has always had a fascinating culture to me. Norris relates to his audience that through language barriers, culture barriers, and gender barriers, we can all relate at the core of what it is to be human.
This book was a great surprise and I look forward to getting to know Norris' work a little bit better. He's published a few other books, one of which is actually used to teach English to Japanese students. It's title is The Many Roads to Japan. Toraware was a book that could be extremely tedious if written by the wrong person seeing as there's not much action in the book. The book's main aesthetic is very voyeuristic. The reader is simply a fly on the wall as we experience the characters sorting out their lives. In Norris' hands, the book is a huge success and a pleasure to read. 4.5/5