Book review: Japanese eclipses

Éclipses japonaises

📚   Éclipses japonaises,
by Éric Faye

240 pages
Historical fiction / Japan / Korea

Not yet available in English

A few weeks ago, I explained two ways I now have of dealing with my TBR.
My second way os simply to  pick a random title (with random generator number) from the books I added to my TBR the month before.
So for a book to read in March, the title randomly chosen among those added to my TBR in february was Éclipses japonaises (not yet translated into English. Litt: Japanese Eclipses).

And why did I add this book to my TBR?
First, anything with the word Japanese in the title attracts my attention (just say the word “Japanese” and I wake up!).
Plus I read Nagasaki by the same author a few years ago, and gave it “5 Eiffel Towers”!
So I thought it was time to read more by him.
And I was right!

I have read a couple of books (Les Évaporés and Respire related to people voluntarily evaporating in Japan (the Jōhatsu), to start a new life, for various reasons.

Faye’s book is also on people disappearing (mostly) in Japan, but this time not on their own choice.
This is based on historical facts, which I had actually never heard about.
We meet various characters who all disappear in this way, and are found again, bit in North Korea.
Why were they taken, and brought there?
This was a fascinating novel, with lots of details on the life of each character.
And neat changes of narrators.
It felt a bit like a jigsaw puzzle to put back together.

It reads like literary fiction, like a spy novel, like a thriller: you decide to walk on this street and not on that one, and then you never know what can happen to you. Life would have been so different if you had taken the other route.

It was also fascinating to see how people tried to reinvent a new life, when no other option was open to them.

All the elements related to language were also an added bonus for me.

It’s also about what makes your personal and national identity, about family history, about the perception you have of your own country and foreign countries.
And about your dedication to your country.

The author seems to know really well the social and historical context.

As an aside, it was fun finding there a reference to Nils The Wonderful Adventures of Nils which I read recently!

“Il ne faudrait jamais se demander pourquoi. Ici, d’ailleurs, c’est un mot que l’on n’entend jamais.”

Éric Faye is really an excellent author. Alas, very few of his books are available in English.
So try at least  Nagasaki – Grand Prix du Roman de l’Académie française (2010)

VERDICT: Wonderfully crafted, on an element of North Korean history not enough known.


Have you read any other book on this?


11 thoughts on “Book review: Japanese eclipses

  1. Pingback: 2023: March wrap-up | Words And Peace

What do you think? Share your thoughts, and I will answer you. I will also visit your own blog

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.