The Woman in the Dunes

2012/02/28


The Woman in the DunesThe Woman in the Dunes by Kōbō Abe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I finished this book a week or so ago but it took watching the film, a good book group discussion, and much thought to decide how I really feel about it. My library book group chooses only international authors and we all really like seeing the perspective different cultures bring. Someone at the meeting asked if this book provided insight on Japanese culture and I had to respond no. I feel like it had little to do with life in Japan and more to do with the human condition in general. It's very extensional and thought provoking and most beautifully written.

What I learned:
Learning might be the wrong word, but what I took away is the idea that our circumstances don't really matter. We're all shoveling metaphorical sand out of a pit to keep ourselves afloat. Good circumstances or bad, we all wake up, work and something that will eventually come undone, and go back to bed only to repeat it all over and over again. A little dismal yes, but I suppose there is a release in acknowledging it.

What I loved:
The writing was beautiful. And I do truly enjoy books that make me think. The characters weren't fully drawn, they mostly stand it as forms to move the plot along, but the book still kept me fully engaged.

Some favorite passages:
"Sand...
Things with form were empty when placed beside sand. The only certain factor was its movement; sand was the antithesis of all form. However, beyond the thin wall of boards the woman continued shoveling as usual. What in heaven's name could she hope to accomplish with her frail arms? It was like trying to build a house in the sea by brushing the water aside.

"Suddenly a sorrow the color of dawn welled up in him. They might as well lick each other's wounds. But they would lick forever, as the wounds would never heal, and in the end their tongues would be worn away.

"Loneliness was an unsatisfied thirst for illusion.

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