Book review: The Ten Loves of Nishino

The Ten Loves of Nishino

The Ten Loves of Nishino,
by Hiromi Kawakami
ニシノユキヒコの恋と冒険
was first published in 2003
Translated by
Allison Markin Powell
Europa Editions
6/4/2019
Japanese Literature
240 pages

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Hiromi Kawakami has written several noticeable novels, so I decided to try The Ten Loves of Mr Nishino.
I read it for Japanese Literature Challenge 13

The book is made up of short chapters, each presenting a relationship between a woman and Nishino, at different periods of his life, from the perspective of each of the ten women.

Despite his character, his awkwardness, though he is also described as handsome, kind and courteous, despite his obvious unfaithfulness, despite their resolve to resist and desire to love somebody else, and even their sense of discomfort with him for some, all these women end up his lovers.

It is interesting to see his way of doing it, his way with words, the way he plays with their emotions, their curiosity, and his way of talking them into it. 

The type of man who could slip so smoothly into a woman’s sensibility…
A man who could satisfy a woman’s desires that even she was unaware of.

Some stories seem to point out his behavior as a “sweetheart scammer” may have roots in his childhood, but as for everything he says, it’s impossible to know if you can rely on his words or not.

There are some beautiful descriptions like this one:

The air around Toru Tanabe was like that of a clear fresh morning in the highlands.

The book structure is interesting, it feels like a painting, with delicate touches here and there to evoke a man, but at the same time, I felt I didn’t have enough to completely see the portrait of the man. 

Alas, I can’t read Japanese, but I think the translator did a great job. The text flowed and seemed very natural.

UPDATE: Congrats to the translator Allison Markin Powell.
She won the 2020 #PENlitawards for this book.

VERDICT: A bit disappointing. It felt too much like a collection of short stories not delving deep enough into the characters.

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In full compliance with FTC Guidelines, I received this ebook free of charge from the publisher through Edelweiss. I was in no way compensated for this post as a reviewer, and the thoughts are my own.

12 thoughts on “Book review: The Ten Loves of Nishino

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  5. Hello lovers of Japanese Literature. I have just finished “Life for Sale” by Yukio Mishima which I enjoyed very much. I posted a review here recently – you might be interested to read it. I also have a book of short stories here called “Tokyo Stories” which I will read soon. I’ll post a review of that too. I see you were disappointed in “The Ten Loves of Nishino” but it sounds like a book I would like to read and I will add it to my TBR list – which is getting so long I can’t keep up with it!

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