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A Dark Night's Passing

by Naoya Shiga

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1322166,162 (4)10

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Naoya Shiga's only novel is a well-regarded classic of Japanese literature. The book is broken into four parts of around 20 chapters each. It is an episodic account of a young man's relatively uneven life in early Twentieth Century Japan.
If you have read books with a similar set-up to this one, you will likely find less to surprise you here and more to remind you of the familiar struggles and concerns of young Japanese. The latter half of the book was very effective, I thought, at encapsulating the bitter resentment the main character had built up through his own interactions through the preceding years.
The medical passages are very engaging to read, in a way reminiscent of Natsume Soseki, when he is describing the agonies of illness, both physical and mental. The main character's relationships with women characters reminded me of Kazuo Ozaki's stories. Yet, I would not call this book light-hearted. There are two notable, and surreal dream sequences, and various meditations on every page. It is, overall, a very somber book, but good food for thought, and something to read slowly, allowing you to savor the bittersweet longing awaiting us all in life. ( )
  LSPopovich | Apr 8, 2020 |
I liked this substantially better than I expected from the opinions of critics I had read about it. It has a nice bit of occasional humor --notably the Mitty-like sequence when the protagonist imaghines himself a sort of "monster that ate Tokyo" and a satisfying conclusion. ( )
1 vote antiquary | Jan 4, 2008 |
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This translation is for my friend Jun Etō
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It was about two months after my mother died in childbirth that I first laid eyes on my grandfather.
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