The Woman in the Dunes

by

Kobo ABE

241 pages

Published by Vintage in 1991

This book counts for

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

This was a weird book, or I should say, I felt dragged into a very weird world. While he’s looking for unique insects, this guy ends up in a dune area where the sand is so powerful that houses are getting swallowed up. He’s taken down in the pit formed by sand movements as a hostage or a slave to help this woman survive and not be swallowed up by sand overnight.

The ambiance was weird, slow and threatening, and I could feel the sand all over me.

At a deeper level, it was an interesting reflection on procrastination, on life choices: why do you do what you do, what do you do when you feel stuck in a tough situation; if you have any chance to change your life, do you go for it, or do you remain in your miserable situation, saying that things can only get better anyway, and because you don’t have the guts to jump and you are afraid the unknown could be worse than what you go through.

Having myself made a major, no: 2 major jumps a few years ago, I actually found this book an interesting reflection on the theme, though I did not enjoy terribly the style.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

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. [Goodreads]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kōbō Abe, pseudonym of Kimifusa Abe, was a Japanese writer, playwright, photographer and inventor.
He was the son of a doctor and studied medicine at Tokyo University. He never practised however, giving it up to join a literary group that aimed to apply surrealist techniques to Marxist ideology.
His first novel The Road Sign at The End of The Street was published in 1948. [Goodreads]

REVIEWS BY OTHERS

“Abe follows with meticulous precision his hero’s constantly shifting physical, emotional and psychological states. He also presents…everyday existence in a sand pit with such compelling realism that these passages serve both to heighten the credibility of the bizarre plot and subtly increase the interior tensions of the novel.” – The New York Times Book Review

“Some of Kobo Abe’s readers will recall Kafka’s manipulation of a nightmarish tyranny of the unknown, others Beckett’s selection of sites like the sand pit…as a symbol of the undignified human predicament.” — Saturday Review [amazon]

HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK YET?
OR ANY OTHER BOOK BY KOBO ABE?
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