For March 2018, we have chosen the country of Japan and the theme of Award Winners – so without further ado, here are the choices and the form is below!
Goodbye Tsugumi – Banana Yoshimoto
(Yamamoto Shugoro Prize, 1989)
Banana Yoshimoto’s novels of young life in Japan have made her an international sensation. Goodbye Tsugumi, called a “witty, perceptive novel” by Elle, is an offbeat story of a deep and complicated friendship between two female cousins that ranks among her best work. Maria is the only daughter of an unmarried woman. She has grown up at the seaside alongside her cousin Tsugumi, a lifelong invalid, charismatic, spoiled, and occasionally cruel. Now Maria’s father is finally able to bring Maria and her mother to Tokyo, ushering Maria into a world of university, impending adulthood, and a “normal” family. When Tsugumi invites Maria to spend a last summer by the sea, a restful idyll becomes a time of dramatic growth as Tsugumi finds love and Maria learns the true meaning of home and family. She also has to confront both Tsugumi’s inner strength and the real possibility of losing her. Goodbye Tsugumi is a beguiling, resonant novel from one of the world’s finest young writers.
Outside Japan, the author has been awarded prizes in Italy: the Scanno Literary Prize in 1993, the Fendissime Literary Prize in 1996, the Literary Prize Maschera d’ argento in 1999, and the Capri Award in 2011.
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his years of pilgrimage – Haruki Murakami
(Hans Christian Andersen 2016)
Tazaki had four best friends at school.
By chance all of their names contained a colour. The two boys were called Akamatsu, meaning `red pine’, and Oumi, `blue sea’, while the girls’ names were Shirane, `white root’, and Kurono, `black field’.
Tazaki was the only last name with no colour in it. One day Tsukuru Tazaki’s friends announced that they didn’t want to see him, or talk to him, ever again. Since that day Tsukuru has been floating through life, unable to form intimate connections with anyone.
But then he meets Sara, who tells him that the time has come to find out what happened all those years ago.
Snow Country – Yasunari Kawabata
(Nobel Prize 1968)
Shimamura is tired of the bustling city. He takes the train through the snow to the mountains of the west coast of Japan, to meet with a geisha he believes he loves.
Beautiful and innocent, Komako is tightly bound by the rules of a rural geisha, and lives a life of servitude and seclusion that is alien to Shimamura, and their love offers no freedom to either of them.
Snow Country is both delicate and subtle, reflecting in Kawabata’s exact, lyrical writing the unspoken love and the understated passion of the young Japanese couple.
Never let me go – Kazuo Ishiguro
(Nobel Prize 2017)
Kazuo Ishiguro imagines the lives of a group of students growing up in a darkly skewed version of contemporary England.
Narrated by Kathy, now thirty-one, Never Let Me Go dramatises her attempts to come to terms with her childhood at the seemingly idyllic Hailsham School and with the fate that has always awaited her and her closest friends in the wider world.
A story of love, friendship and memory, Never Let Me Go is charged throughout with a sense of the fragility of life.