Sunday, December 22, 2013

Book Review - Botchan

Natsume Sōseki
Translated by J. Cohn
Publisher: Kodansha International
Pub. Date: 2005
First published in Japanese in 1906
ISBN: 978-4770030481
Pages:  172
Literary fiction
public library
Reading Challenge
Buy Link

I finally decided to read a second book for my Japanese Literature Challenge. The biggest part of the challenge is to find something I would like to read that fits the challenge AND is available in my public library system. Not always easy.
I had very much enjoyed Kokoro, by the same author (I just wrote a couple of lines about it in my early days of book blogging), so I decided to try Botchan.
Botchan (meaning the kid) is a young kid doing all kinds of crazy things, like all kids. He is very much disliked by his parents and brother, who think nothing good could possibly come out of him, but he is admired by Kiyo, the family old servant. She keeps thinking he will eventually become someone important. He studies physical sciences and becomes a math teacher. This could have been good, but it ends up being a very tough and poisoning experience because of nasty students and crazy colleagues.

I will let you read the book to discover what eventually happens to him.
I liked the character development, as Botchan, first rather good and naïve, soon discovers that not all people are good and honest. He tries to figure out who are the good and the bad guys around him. He realizes that in life, many people are two-faced.
What is most interesting for me in this novel is the humoristic tone for almost the whole first half of the book. I say interesting, because I believe this is the first time I read a Japanese novel that funny in tone. It was also intriguing to accompany Botchan and try to know with him whom could be trusted or not. 

The book contains fascinating elements on culture, especially on cultural differences between Tokyo and small remote villages.

Check here a couple of quotations I particularly liked in this novel.

*Disclaimer - I checked out this book at my public library*

About the Author:
Natsume Sōseki (夏目 漱石) was the pen name of Natsume Kinnosuke, who is widely considered to be the foremost Japanese novelist of the Meiji Era (1868–1912). He is commonly referred to as Sōseki. He is best known for his novels Kokoro, Botchan, I Am a Cat and his unfinished work Light and Darkness. He was also a scholar of British literature and composer of haiku, Chinese-style poetry, and fairy tales. From 1984 until 2007, his portrait appeared on the front of the Japanese 1000 yen note. [Goodreads]

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