First published in Japanese in 1966, the debut novel of the critically acclaimed author of Singular Rebellion is an unusual portrait of a deeply taboo subject in twentieth-century Japanese society: resistance to the draft in World War II. In 1940 Shokichi Hamada is a conscientious objector who dodges military service by simply disappearing from society, taking to the country as an itinerant peddler by the name of Sugiura until the end of the war in 1945. In 1965, Hamada works as a clerk at a conservative university, his war resistance a dark secret of the past that present-day events force into the light, confronting him with unexpected consequences of his refusal to conform twenty years earlier.
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(210mm x 163mm x 30mm)
Columbia University Press
Publisher: Columbia University Press
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US Kirkus Review »
A draft dodger's experiences during and following WWII stimulate a searching criticism of the psychology of rebellion in this superb 1966 novel by the Japanese author of, among others, Singular Rebellion (1990). Maruya observes protagonist Shokichi Hamada both in 1945, when he eludes conscription and travels throughout his country incognito, and 20 years later, when Hamada, who has renamed himself Sugiura, works as a registry clerk at a prestigious small university, attempts to recapture his discarded identity, and at last pays the price for his dereliction from duty. Hamada's-and the novel's-criticisms of Japanese militarism and emperor-worship are indeed scathing. But the great achievement here is that these are balanced by unrelenting analyses of the weaknesses in Hamada's character, the further damage he has done to himself by living a buried life, and his genuinely mixed feelings about his country and culture and their claims on his allegiance. A masterly realistic novel, and one of the best out of the Far East in many years. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Saiichi Maruya
Saiichi Maruya is an award-winning novelist, translator, and critic. His novel Singular Rebellion was published in English to critical acclaim in 1986. He lives in Tokyo. Dennis Keene is one of the most respected translators of Japanese literature today. He has translated several of Maruya's books, including Singular Rebellion and A Mature Woman. He lives in Oxford, UK.