Darkness in Summer

Takeshi Kaiko, Author Peter Owen Publishers $29.95 (210p) ISBN 978-0-7206-0725-3
A recipient of Japan's prestigious Akutagawa, Kawabata and Mainichi prizes, Kaiko makes his English-language debut with this languidly voluptuous, curiously dated novel about a love affair doomed by the vague woes of modernity. Reunited in 1968, a Japanese man and woman share a decade of accumulated expatriate angst in West Germany during a sensual reverie of many weeks' length, pursuing sexual hunger to the hilt but finding, at best, a sad satiety. ``I feel as if I am turning into an earthworm that does nothing but eat and defecate,'' the narrator complains, rendered ``indolent to the point of paralysis'' by his incurable anomie and her unspeakable misery. ``My body sags under the mere weight of my internal monologues, and it is beyond the capacity of my feet to carry it.'' Kaiko's lushly sensuous version of existential despair takes itself so seriously that unintentionally comic moments intrude, especially in breathily lofty dialogue. Though striking in its evocation of physical detail and devotion to despondency, the novel lacks the energy and art needed to animate a view of life as abject anticlimax. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1988
Release date: 05/01/1988
Paperback - 216 pages - 978-0-8048-3325-7
Paperback - 978-0-8048-1375-4
Hardcover - 210 pages - 978-0-394-48441-9
Open Ebook - 246 pages - 978-1-4629-0443-3
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