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Throwback Thursday (13) September 27, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in Book talk.
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Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books.

It’s the nature of book blogging to focus mainly on new releases, but there are thousands of great books out there that haven’t seen the “New Releases” shelf in years. We hope to be able to bring attention to some older titles that may not be at the top of the current bestseller list, but still deserve a spot in your To-Be-Read pile.

You don’t have to be a book blogger to participate! You can put up a Throwback Thursday post on your non-bookish blog; or if you don’t have a blog at all, just use the comments to tell us about a book you remember fondly.

Here’s how it works:
1. Pick any book released more than 5 years ago. Adult, YA, Children’s; doesn’t matter. Any great book will do.
2. Write up a short summary of the book (include the title, author, and cover art) and an explanation of why you love it. Make sure to link back to The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books in your post.
3. Link up your post at The Housework Can Wait or Never Too Fond of Books.
4. Visit as many blogs as you can, reminisce about books you loved, and discover some “new” books for your TBR list!

Title: The Woman in the Dunes

Author: Kobo Abe

Original Publication Date: April 16, 1991

Available at: Amazon Kindle Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

One of the premier Japanese novels of the twentieth century, The Women in the Dunes combines the essence of myth, suspense, and the existential novel. In a remote seaside village, Niki Jumpei, a teacher and amateur entomologist, is held captive with a young woman at the bottom of a vast sand pit where, Sisyphus-like, they are pressed into shoveling off the ever-advancing sand dunes that threaten the village.

The Woman in the Dunes is an evocative novel about Niki Jumpei who gets trapped in a sand pit with a young woman. They have an endless job of shoveling sand to survive. Jumpei has several plans to escape the sand dunes but they never come to fruition. The sand wears down his soul and in the end it wears down his plans to escape.

This novel had a huge impact on how I thought about change and resolve in the face of adversity. Just how much could I stand in the face of an extreme challenge such as what Jumpei faced? We all face challenges in our way. How do we face them?

Kobo Abe did a masterful job of addressing these questions although he did so in a rather dark fashion. This will always be one of my favorite books and will also always be on my reread list.

Review – Woman in the Dunes March 20, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 5 stars, Foreign, Literature.
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4 comments

Woman in the Dunes

by Kobo Abe

 In a remote seaside village, Niki Jumpei, a teacher and amateur entomologist, is held captive with a young woman at the bottom of a vast sand pit where, Sisyphus-like, they are pressed into shoveling off the ever-advancing sand dunes that threaten the village.

** warning this review contains some spoilers**

A Goodreads review said it best it’s a “novel of erosion – erosion of resolve, erosion of morality, erosion of sanity”.

While Jumpei is held captive with the woman at the bottom of the sand pit, he devises every means of escape he can. None of them come to fruition. Ultimately he is trapped with her and slowly admits defeat in an ever winding loop of despair.

He also ends up in a sexual relationship with the woman. This, despite the fact that he has every intention of leaving her the first chance he gets. It’s quite out of character for him which leads to the “erosion of morality.” He also ends up in even worse situations which lends itself even more to the theme of “erosion of morality theme.

It’s not a cheerful book, but it’s a very good book. You are left wondering if there are certain things in life you have no choice but to accept. You are left wondering at the futility of things you cannot change.

So while I can’t recommend this book if you’re feeling down, I do recommend this book as an excellent read if you’re in a mood for a good think. It’s something I think everyone can relate to. I believe we’ve all felt the defeat of static of things things that seem unchanging despite all that we might do. Abe does an excellent job of portraying this.