Monday, August 27, 2007

Book Review...Botchan by Natsume Soseki

Botchan.Natsume Soseki.2006.Kodansha International.172pages.

Botchan was first published in Japanese way back in 1906.It was written by Natsume Soseki who is widely regarded as the best modern(i.e post 1868)Japanese prose writer.As well as novels he also wrote essays,literary criticism pieces and composed traditional haiku and poetry.
Botchan is one of his earlier works and reflects his experiences as a secondary school teacher in Shikoku and Kyushu.
The leading character of the book Botchan is used as a vehicle by the author to poke fun at various institutions and parts of Japanese society as well as individual human foibles and failings.One doesnt have to be Japanese to identify with the urban/rural distinctions he draws such as the perceived backwardness of small towns versus the modernity of cities like Tokyo.
I enjoyed this easily readable light satire and can see why it has retained its popularity and become a standard school text book.
The translation into English by J Cohn wasnt clunky and doesnt detract or do a disservice to the author.Recommended

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