Item description for Woman on the Other Shore: A Novel by Mitsuyo Kakuta...
This compelling novel, widely acclaimed for its perceptive portrayal of the everyday lives and struggles of Japanese women, struck a deep chord with readers throughout Japan. In 2005 it won the prestigious Naoki Prize, awarded semiannually for the best work of popular fiction by an established writer. Sayoko, a thirty-five-year-old homemaker with a three-year-old child, begins working for Aoi, a free-spirited, single career woman her own age who runs a travel agency-housekeeping business. Timid and unable to connect with other mothers in her neighborhood, Sayoko finds herself drawn to Aoi's independent lifestyle and easygoing personality. The two hit it off from the start, beginning a friendship that is for Sayoko also a reaffirmation of what living is about. Aoi, meanwhile, has not always been the self-confident person she appears to be. Severe classroom bullying in junior high had forced her to change schools, uprooting her and her family to the countryside; and at her new school, she was so afraid of again becoming the object of her classmates' cruelties that she spent most of her time steering clear of those around her. The present-day friendship between Sayoko and Aoi on the one hand, and Aoi's painful high school past on the other, form a gripping two-tier narrative that converges in the final chapter. The book touches on a broad range of issues of concern to women today, from marriage and childrearing to being single and working for oneself. It is a universal story about both the fear and the joy of opening up to others.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.98" Width: 6.14" Height: 0.94" Weight: 1.28 lbs.
Release Date Jun 22, 2007
Publisher Kodansha International
ISBN 4770030436 ISBN13 9784770030436
Reviews - What do customers think about Woman on the Other Shore: A Novel?
Good a quick read Jul 22, 2008
I originally picked up this book because the abstract sounded highly interesting, and fused with my love for Japan and culture, was delighted to read it. Unfortunately, it was boring for me because the entire book constantly focused on feelings and had little action. A lot of the story itself is like a drama. It portrays the two women's feelings in addition to describing one of the protagonist's nostalgic moments of attempting suicide with her high school friend. People are always critical of negative reviews and tend to rate down on the reviewer that wrote it, but I frankly don't care. This book was boring. I believe in honest reviews.
Highly recommended read Oct 4, 2007
I have always had a fascination of Japan, the society and her culture since I visited a few years back. Good Japanese fiction and films have a long time left a lasting impression on me and this book is no different.
It depicts and covers a motley crew of issues in Japanese society ranging from the sometimes "archaicsm" of mentalities towards child rearing, working married women and the challenges, stigmas that single, unmarried women face. The relationship between the 2 women is touching as they find common solidarity in spite living different situations.
A highly enjoyable read as I finished the book from page to page in 1 day .I am looking forward to future translations of Kakuta's work in the English language.
Great book about female relationships Aug 20, 2007
I read Kakuta's novel while in Japan with my Japanese wife on an extended stay. We actually read it at the same time - she in Japanese and me in English. The novel offers a compelling double narrative. As it traces the struggles of a housewife (Sayoko) to find a social place where she's accepted and that's satisfying to her, it simultaneously flashes back to the junior high school days of Aoi, a female entrepeneur of the same age. These two women eventually meet, and the novel looks at how their current relationship is affected by the failed female relationships of the past. I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I liked the exploration of relationships and could relate to a lot of it even though I'm a guy. The book reveals a lot about Japanese culture and relationships, even though I don't think you have to know a lot about Japanese culture to appreciate this novel (though Bruce Feiler's book Learning to Bow about the Japanese junior high school system helped me to understand the clannish nature of Japanese junior high schools that both girls experienced). Anyway, I'd recommend this book to anyone. I hope more of Kakuta's works are translated into English (or that I become literate in Japanese!).