Beautiful and poignant, this little story stole my heart. The layers of the friendship and love flow like waves on the shore as the tide comes in. Each time a little higher than before.
I picked this novel up in a bargain/sale bookstore because the cover and title piqued my interest, and I love discovering Japanese authors I haven’t read yet. It seems that Kawakami is quite a famous novelist, and though this is the only story of hers I have read so far, the beautiful mood and touching romance leave me with no doubt that she is a great writer.
The story follows a 35 year old woman who happens to meet a teacher she had in high school. Given her age there is nothing of the illicit nature of usual student/teacher stories. It seems to me to have been chosen as a narrative device to bind them together with an element of nostalgia. In any case the story unfolds slowly with the coming and going of the seasons. I was completely absorbed, finishing the entire book in a single sitting.
Interestingly there is a sort of dream sequence in the middle the reminded me of some of Haruki Murakami’s surreal scenes, blurring the line between reality. In the context of this novel though it felt quite out of place.
My only other criticism is a minor one. In a couple of places the translation was a bit awkward, interrupting the flow of certain paragraphs.
Overall this was a great book with an emotional punch. The last line – my favourite quote – is heartbreaking in context.
“The blank empty space unfolds, containing nothing. It holds nothing more than an expanse of desolate space.”