😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
This rather strange but very moving collection of four stories is centred round the iconic Mount Fuji. In each story the central character seems somehow damaged and alone, struggling to work out who they are and why they feel what they feel. This makes it sound like a very depressing read but somehow it’s not – on the contrary, I was left feeling, without quite understanding why, that the overall message of the book is one of hope and inspiration.
There is a spiritual feel to the book; these characters are seeking something that will enable them to explain themselves to themselves and their searches take them in strange and surprising directions. ‘Blue Summit’ tells of an ex-cult member now working in a convenience store and learning how to live outside the cult. ‘Sea of Trees’ is a disturbing tale of three boys confronting death while spending a night in the woods of Mount Fuji. ‘Jamilla’ is a compulsive hoarder and this is the tale of the social worker detailed to clear her house. And lastly, in ‘Child of Night’ a walk up the mountain becomes a journey of self-discovery for a nurse who is struggling with the ethics of her job.
There is a strange passivity about some of the characters, (something I’ve noticed in other Japanese novels, so perhaps it’s a cultural trait), but also a strong feeling of the possibility of spiritual rebirth or redemption. I’m not at all sure that I fully understood the book (as may be obvious from this review!) but I found it compelling and thought provoking, and although it saddened and even disturbed me in places, I felt oddly uplifted in the end.
The translation is done very well although, as is often the case, with a very American English slant. However, it seemed to me that the translator kept the voices consistent and it felt as if the overall tone was probably a very good representation of the original. The individual stories are interesting in themselves and they aren’t linked by anything other than the appearance of Mount Fuji but this is very definitely a collection that builds together so that the sum is far greater than the parts. Highly recommended.
NB This book was provided for review by Amazon Vine UK.