Thursday, April 08, 2010

Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata

Thousand Cranes is the third Kawabata novel that I have read and by far the best. It is the story of a man haunted by the mistresses of his father. Kikuji is invited to a tea ceremony by one of his father's former mistresses, Chikako. She invites him in order to arrange Kikuji's marriage to Yukiko. But another of his father's mistresses, Mrs. Ota, also attends the tea ceremony, accompanied by her daughter. Kawabata weaves a sad and romantic tale from Kikuji's relationships with all four women.

I have described Kawabata's prose before as spare. In Thousand Cranes, he does a magnificent job of using this spare prose to touch the reader's heart with this romantic tale. For the first time I see why Kawabata deserved the Nobel Prize for Literature, which he won in 1968, shortly before his tragic suicide in 1972. Thousand Cranes certainly makes up for the last Kawabata novel I read, House of the Sleeping Beauties, which was awful. If you are looking to read some Kawabata, Thousand Cranes would be a good place to start.


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