Kenzaburo Oe, the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, is internationally acclaimed as one of the most important and influential post-World War II. In the s, Kenzaburo Oe began regularly writing about a character based on his autistic son, Hikari. A Personal Matter, by Kenzaburo Oe. A Personal Matter by Kenzaburo Oe Kenzaburo Oe in A Personal Matter. “Bird, gazing down at the map of Africa that reposed in the showcase with the.

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Bird, the conspiring murderer. Japanese men are exponentially more handicapped in this department.

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What to make of a young man whose wife has just delivered their first baby while he was having a showdown with a street gang and who responds to his son’s physically appalling abnormality by going on a rampage of alcohol and sex, eagerly awaiting news of the baby’s death? He only views his biological child as a callously assembled, defective mass of flesh, blood and bone.

Bird, the protagonist, is a young man of 27 with antisocial tendencies who more than once in his life, when confronted with a critical problem, has “cast himself adrift on a sea of whisky like a besotted Robinson Crusoe.

On the one hand, this is an extremely well-written short novel about a man coming to terms with the birth of a special-needs child that will inevitably cause him to have to grow up and sacrifice many of his own selfish needs. Bird, the miserable failure of a man.

I hear you, I feel you. Bird continued to cry.

Speeding away on a bike, he felt he was escaping himself more effectively than he could on foot, if only a little. Chapters 5 and 6. I think bh reason I love this book so much is because I really detested it when I started reading it. Bird’s wife, mother-in-law and father-in-law all commend him for the actions he took to save the baby.

He finishes the bottle of whisky and passes out. Shopbop Designer Fashion Brands. Bird, a young man awaiting the birth of his first child in a profoundly self absorbed state and when told the child has a fatal disfiguring defect seeks solace in whiskey and the company of a former Learn more about Amazon Prime. Not a pretty story. This is an astonishingly moral work, although the foundation of Oe’s morality is not framed in the more familiar Judeo-Christian orientation of the west.


Bird’s father-in-law tells him his nickname no longer suits him. So he gifts us with the strength to endure it instead. The doctor subtly tells Bird that he can give it sugar water instead of milk to ensure the baby does not get stronger, thus preventing him from getting the surgery necessary to fix the hernia.

A little while after, Bird goes to Himiko’s house and is proposed by her sexual intercourse, of which he agrees. So he has a low-status job as a cram-school instructor.

What to make of a young man whose wife has just delivered their first baby while he was having a showdown with a street gang and who responds to his This book is a perfect example of how good writing conquers all.

That was in After the ordeal, he returns to the hospital, sure that his child should have died by now. Not a fun read by any means, but sometimes it is good to step away from what is comfortable and think differently. This page was last edited on 27 Novemberat I would give it 5 stars for creating such a memorable fuck of a character, except the book is about as pleasant as he is. It is a young man’s moral struggle to rise above his dreams for himself and his raging passions. This book is about Bird, a twenty-something man and teacher whose wife has just given birth to a baby with a seemingly grave brain hernia.

He feels reluctant at first, but then concedes and is able to achieve orgasm with Himiko. He disgusts the reader but he also evokes feelings of sympathy and solidarity. The whole book is a symphony on shame and its avoidance. I don’t remember ever being as disgusted with the main character in a book as I was with Bird. With Himiko’s help, he takes the baby to an abortionist. And when he finally finds hope in a hopeless place and sets into motion the long, convoluted process of acceptance, it is not the predictability of this ending which strikes us.

When people talk about “perfect” novels, an idea I totally glower at, I think of this as an example. If you’ve never read this one and you’re looking for a shortish novel that rocked hard enough to win the dude the Nobel Prize, something you can read before the weekend ends, something with serious existential, historical, and cultural HEFT, but also relatively easy reading, here ya go.


Later, after the baby’s head and brain are surgically re-shaped, Bird’s father-in-law comments on how much he Bird has changed, and how grown-up he now seems. He leaves school, but not before a student accuses him of being hungover. Men are inculcated to hide emotionally.

Through the course of the narrative, Oe moves his personal matter subtly with political, social and existential thoughts concerning man’s being, his fear, dread, suffering, alienation, anguish and death. And I almost did. Bird realizes that now he has no prospects for ever travelling to the African Continent, and worries about his Hospital Bills and financial situation.

Which is probably a healthy response. Though there is practically no chance the baby will develop normally, he is taken to another hospital that specializes in brain surgery. And so we proceed to wrap them up in the protective wadding of false pretensions, carefully hiding them away from the scrutiny of the rest of the world and more importantly, ourselves.

After the meeting with his supervisor, he is let go of his job. View the Study Pack. And what does one sometimes do with personal tragedy, we write about it. The author won the Nobel Prize in Anyway, his wife has the baby and the child has an obvious physical, and possibly mental, deformity.

A Personal Matter – Kenzaburo Oe, 大江健三郎 – Google Books

Neither Oe nor Sebald is bound to literal veracity, fact for fact, in their obviously autobiographical fictions. I thought, Is this kind of reaction normal, and accepted, for a Japanese man in the s?? What if you did have a crisis like this?

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