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Fires on the Plain (1957)
by Shōhei Ōoka
"Written with precise skill and beautifully controlled power. The translation by Ivan Morris is outstanding." --The New York Times **Winner of the 1952 Yomiuri Prize** This haunting novel explores the complete degradation and isolation of a man by war.Fires on the Plain is set on the island of Leyte in the Philippines during World War II, where the Japanese army is disintegrating under the hammer blows of the American landings. Within this broader disintegration is another, that of a single human being, Private Tamura. The war destroys each of his ties to society, one by one, until Tamura, a sensitive and intelligent man, becomes an outcast. Nearly losing the will to survive, he hears of a port still in Japanese hands and struggles to walk through the American lines. Unfazed by danger, he welcomes the prospect of dying, but first, he loses his hope, and then his sanity. Lost among his hallucinations, Tamura comes to fancy himself an angel enjoined by God to eat no living thing--but even angels fall. Tamura is never less than human, even when driven to the ultimate sin against humanity. Shocking as the outward events are, the greatness of the novel lies in its uplifting vision during a time of crushing horror. As relevant today as when it was originally published,Fires on the Plain will strike a chord with anyone who has lived through the horrors of war.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)809Literature By Topic History, description and criticism of more than two literatures
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