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'Death by Water' by Kenzaburo Oe: EW review

Posted on

Death by Water

type:
Book
Current Status:
In Season
author:
Kenzaburo Oe
publisher:
Grove Press
genre:
Novel

We gave it a B

From early on, Oe placed himself far outside the constrained tradition of Japanese masters like Yasunari Kawabata and Junichiro Tanizaki, preferring instead the messiness of real life. The most recently translated of the Nobel Prize winner’s semiautobiographical “I-Novels” continues to retread old subjects and themes—a process Oe has compared to musical elaboration—as his literary alter ego returns to his childhood home to gather string for a book about his father’s drowning, while attempting to patch a rift between himself and his middle-aged son. There is a certain impenetrability and slogginess for the unfamiliar reader, but the novel ultimately rewards patience. B