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  1. Ibuse, Masuji.
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Translator, Doritoru-sensei monogatari zenshu by Hugh Lofting. Although his reputation outside Japan is still based chiefly on Kuroi ame Black Rain , his novel about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in , Ibuse Masuji is without a doubt one of the most prolific and important Japanese writers of the 20th century.

In retrospect, Ibuse stands next among Akutagawa, Kawabata, Mishima, Murakami, Oe, and Tanizaki as one of the luminaries of contemporary Japanese literary culture. Encouraged in his literary pursuits by his mentor and patron Kotaro Tanaka, Ibuse rapidly established himself by the early s as a successful author.

Throughout his career as a writer, Ibuse took an interest in history. Influences on his work ranged from medieval Japanese epics, whose style he imitated in his first longer work of fiction Sazanami gunki Waves: A War Diary , to his own experiences of being drafted during World War II as a correspondent for the Imperial Army.

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Instead, he allows his keen eye for detail and his sensitivity to human suffering to convey his intentions. Some critics have accused Ibuse of being overly uncritical in refusing to criticize the Japanese tactics in Singapore, but Ibuse extended a similar lack of judgment to most of his subject matter. Coupled with his abiding interest in literal or figurative hyoryuki "castaways" , this objectivity toward historical reality laid the foundation for his masterpiece, Black Rain.

As was the case with many of his prior works, Ibuse thoroughly researched the details of the novel.

Lieutenant Lookeast and other stories / translated by John Bester. - Version details - Trove

Ibuse himself had been thirty miles away in the village of Kamo during the bombing, but not near enough to have experienced it first-hand. Black Rain is based on a number of documentary sources, including eyewitness accounts of the bombing. Most important, though, was the journal of Shizuma Shigematsu, a survivor with whom Ibuse had regularly gone fishing in the immediate post-war years and whose story he would transform into that of his protagonist Shigematsu Shizuma.

Ibuse indirectly depicts the events of 6 August , setting his novel nearly five years after the bombing. I should read this! I have read John Hersey's Hiroshima but this is by a Japanese author. Thanks again for introducing me to another book I might not have come across.


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  • You are a real resource for me. My pleasure! That's the point of writing this blog: drawing attention to books that are overlooked or forgotten at least sometimes. Yes, when such a book is written by a Japanese author - although he wasn't in Hiroshima at the time - it makes the account feel a lot more authentic and less focused on the mere facts.

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    Your comments will be deleted at once without being read. Instead he turned to writing for small magazines like Seiki that had published one of his first short stories in , i.

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    At the time of the atomic bomb attack of 6 August on Hiroshima they all lived in the city, but they were lucky not to have been anywhere near ground zero and to escape unharmed except Shigematsu who had a burnt cheek. On the morning of the bomb, Yasuko actually was outside Hiroshima altogether even though she returned at once to see if her family was alright , but rumours say the contrary and have so far ruined all her marriage prospects making fear that she may develop strange signs of illness like so many other survivors and infect everybody dealing with her.

    Five years after the bomb, the public still knows very little about radiation and even less about its long-term effects, so everybody who was in Hiroshima is considered potentially sick and dangerous. To refute the false rumours about Yasuko, Shigematsu begins to copy passages from her diary and from his own dealing with the event and its immediate aftermaths.

    Thus he relives the hours, when they roamed devastated Hiroshima first in search of each other and then on their way to the cloth factory in the environs where he worked. The strange, kind of oily black rain that went down on Hiroshima shortly after the bomb explosion seems of little importance in their accounts because nobody knows about the dangers of nuclear fallout yet.


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    Seeing how impressive their diary entries are, Shigematsu sets himself a new and more ambitious task: he wants to compile a comprehensive testimonial of the Hiroshima bomb attack for the village school library. On the occasion of the then upcoming twentieth anniversary of the atomic bomb attacks in August, however, the editor suggested the new title referring to the nuclear fallout described in the book.

    Most of the novel is based on the diaries of real people that the author skilfully transformed and adapted for his narrative purposes without altering their essence, sometimes not even names. Also the language used to tell the story of Hiroshima and the people who survived the bomb feels extremely authentic and makes the book the more convincing.

    As a book with the objective of keeping alive the memory of what the average survivor of Hiroshima experienced in August and the months that followed, Black Rain by Ibuse Masuji has been a very impressive and moving read.