Passover

Fumiko Kometani, Author Carroll & Graf Publishers $14.95 (148p) ISBN 978-0-88184-509-9
These two linked novellas concern Michi, a Japanese woman with a brain-damaged son, Ken, and her husband Al, a Jewish writer. and mother of a brain- damaged son, Ken. In the title story, bitterly narrated by Michi, she relates how she, Al and their elder son Jon come to New York for their first vacation in 14 years, an occasion Al ruins by insisting they attend a Passover seder at his sister's home. In the second, ``A Guest from Afar,'' told in the third person, Al ruins Ken's first visit home from his residential treatment center by shouting at Michi. Both stories read more like polemic than fiction. Michi rails against all the circumstances of her life; she condemns Jews (in particular her sister-in-law) for intolerance, Americans for insensitivity and prejudice, Japan for conventionality, her husband for his family, his Americanism, his personality. She detests women, including herself, for the way they look. While Kometani authentically renders the pervasive influence of an acutely handicapped child who, even in his absence, continues to dominate his parents' relationship, her portrayal of culture-clashed family dynamics is excessively mean-spirited. In comparison with her husband Josh Greenfield's powerful chronicle of life with their autistic son, A Child Called Noah , Kometani's narrative, dominated by the protagonist's whining self-pity and spiteful vituperation, is a nasty diatribe. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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