(Picture to follow) THE LAUREATE: Kenzaburo Oe was born in 1935 in a small village in one of the larger islands of Japan, called Ose. His family had long been keepers of the village stories, and he learned them all from his grandmother. At the start of world war II, Oe’s elementary school shifted its curriculum to the usual wartime pap, which his grandmother’s stories undermined. After the war, Oe broke family tradition, left the village and went to Tokyo University to study French literature. He began writing shortly thereafter, and his writing was strongly affected by the ideas of Rabelais, Mircea Eliade and Sartre. Oe was also traumatized by the (much later) birth of his son with a rare defect that left him very handicapped. This son, Hikari, has apparently since recovered and become a comparatively successful musician. Oe has retired from writing conventional fiction and lives with his wife and son.
WHAT I’M READING: Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids, One’s first novel.
REVIEW: No the Buds, Shoot the Kids was a fairly low-key book. Not a lot of high drama or titanic clashes of will. It’s kind of a light version of Lord of the Flies, where a bunch of schoolboys get barricaded by themselves and abandoned. Ultimately, the book is about the conflict between the individual and communities.
RECOMMENDATION: Yes, read it. I plan on grabbing the rest of his work.
WHAT’S NEXT: El Señor Presidente by Miguel Angel Asturias.