Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Recommendation: Naomi by Junichirō Tanizaki


This book is not erotica, and I must admit I would have preferred it to have been more sexually explicit, but it was nevertheless playfully sensual and at times quite arousing.

The story is centrally concerned with a young Japanese man’s infatuation with a younger Japanese woman, and explores themes of sexual desire, love, delusion and cultural aspiration as we follow him taking her under his wing and trying to mould her into his ideal lady. There were a couple of points where the story started to feel a little slow, but each time it soon picked up again nicely, and by the end I found I had been very much won over by the book.

I have no idea how close the English translation (by Anthony H. Chambers) is to the original Japanese writing, but certainly it feels true to the tenor of the narrative, and flows transparently and evocatively without jarring at all.

Ultimately, I came to be captivated by the fresh tone, the wry humour, the subtly pervading sensuality, the sheer strength of the narrator’s passion and the sense of a satisfyingly entertaining story. When I had finished it, I was left with a lovely sense of lingering lyricism, which makes me keen to read more of this author’s work.

(The edition I read: Published by Pavanne, London, 1987,
ISBN 10: 0330296744 / ISBN 13: 9780330296748)

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