The Music of Light: The Extraordinary Story of Hikari and Kenzaburo Oe

Lindsley Cameron, Author
Lindsley Cameron, Author Free Press $24 (240p) ISBN 978-0-684-82409-3
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
Hardcover - 273 pages - 978-0-7838-0286-2
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Born in 1963 with a severe brain hernia, composer Hikari Oe--son of Nobel Prize-winning Japanese novelist Kenzaburo Oe--was saved from death by an operation that left him brain-damaged and autistic. Today, Hikari, with an IQ measured at 65, limited speech faculties, a mental age of 12 and prone to epileptic seizures, nevertheless composes musical pieces that are mature and steeped in the Western classical idiom, and which have won him a worldwide following among CD collectors. A remarkable testament to the human spirit, Hikari's creative unfolding, as Cameron makes clear in this delicately written report, was made possible largely by Kenzaburo's all-consuming devotion, combined with constant, imaginative care from the child's mother. Freelancer Cameron sensitively uses Japanese culture to mirror American ambivalence toward the handicapped, and she documents the extraordinary degree to which Kenzaburo's involvement with his son has shaped the themes and direction of his own life and his fiction. Her inspirational account also draws on brain and cognitive research to help explain savants' singular gifts. (June)
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