There are many points where the prose didn't convince me too much - better said, got me kind of tired. Also some part of the story, say where the (not a) novelist seems to have a direct effect on the diary, sounded a little 'fake' to me. Nevertheless, I have to admit that the overall plot caught me and surprisingly, as a matter of coincendences, I was also feeling as a part of the plot itself. So, it would deserve half a star more than the three I'm awarding....Continua
Un bellissimo libro scritto a due voci, quella violenta e disperata della sedicenne Nao, tornata nel “suo” Giappone dopo un’esperienza nella Silicon Valley a causa del lavoro del padre, e quella pacata e senza più grossi entusiasmi di Ruth, scrittrice newyorkese che per amore vive in una sperduta isola canadese.
Li unirà un diario, portato dello tsunami del 2011 dall’altra parte del Pacifico e la vita e la filosofia della bisnonna di Tao, monaca buddhista zen
The story is very smart, but I'm afraid I'm not smart enough to understand the details *.*
The biggest disappointment of the year in terms of expectation and actual payoff. Were it not for the ambition I sense in the undertaking and the apparent commitment that went into the attempt to fulfill such ambition, judging by the book itself and the highly unenjoyable reading experience it made for, this would have only gotten one star from me.
The story starts off nicely with the monologue of a Japanese girl in the heart of Tokyo, writing to an unknown opposite across time and space while wondering about such enduring mysteries as the reader-writer relationship and promising explosive follow-ups of suicide and the life story of her 104-year-old great grandmother. Cut to the second chapter and we immediately get the receiving end of the communication- a woman with Japanese heritage living in Canada who found the diary of the girl in the most rudimentary message-in-a-bottle-fashion. She starts to read, and a to-and-fro between continents and circumstances begins. The set-up is simple but has its appeal, it's just that what comes after in this 400+ page book is so maddeningly affected, broad, exploitative, condescending and plain old boring.
The plot is not very well thought-through. Not only do the various subplots involving school bullying, parental suicide attempts, rediscovery of the great grandmother, bear no compelling inner-coherency to the ever-present philosophical/religious musings or the supposedly illuminating historical flashbacks of WWII atrocities, the very fundamental framing device of the narrative- one diary entry followed by one real-time reflection/speculation/explanation- just doesn't make any sense after about two rounds. The woman's determination to find out who's this girl and what happened to her doesn't lead to the very logical step of her reading straight through the diary, but her stopping herself after every single entry and wondering some more about the mysterious person. Trying to justify that with the woman's arbitrary wish to keep the same pace as the writing is not persuasive in the least and even then can't keep its own reluctant logic straight as both worlds still progress at obviously different rate. It's a basic structural decision for the sake of a parallel narrative, but its inherent nonsensical nature is endlessly annoying. Add to that the torrents of life lessons, epiphanies, comparisons, enlightenments all packed up in pretentious oriental wrappers and pseudo-spiritual teachings. And it just becomes all very patronizing and plastic. It's not that the Japanese language is not beautiful, but translating every second one of the Japanese words dropped all through the story doesn't make this story more sophisticated. It's just translation. Trying to glean some deep meaning from the words and somehow selling it as the achievement of the novel is lazy and cheap.
Eastern philosophy and Buddhist scriptures are beautiful and profound. Great tragedies like world wars and 911 are heartbreaking and life-changing. But without a good contexual set-up, those things don't belong together (I'm not even counting the French philosophies and the quantum physics that somehow also got dragged into the mix). Forcing a connection out of it all is shallow and leaves a bad taste....Continua
An unusual coming of age story. Nao in Japan writes a diary and Ruth in Vancouver (?) finds it and reads it. The story changes and develops as Ruth discovers more. It had so many levels and so much depth that it required far more attention than I gave it lying on a beach....Continua