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The setting is Japan's deep south, where the author himself spent four years teaching ...
The setting is Japan's deep south, where the author himself spent four years teaching English in a middle school. Into this conservative world, with its social proprieties and established pecking order, breezes Botchan, down from the big city, with scant respect for either his elders or his noisy young charges; and the result is a chain of collisions large and small.
Most of the story seems to occur in summer, against the drone of cicadas and the sting of mosquitoes. And in every way this is a summer book--light, sunny, and fun to read. Here, in a lively new translation much better suited to the American reader, Botchan should continue to entertain even those who have never been near the sunlit island on which these calamitous episodes take place.
Posted December 9, 2008
In Japan Botchan grew up knowing his father thought he was a worthless wastrel his mother, who died when he was young, expected him to be a failure his effeminate older brother only hated him. He expected to be disinherited so nothing stood in his way to dare to defy the restrictive demands of the social order except perhaps the housekeeper Kiyo who loves him like the way a mother does by cherishing their offspring. --- However shocking all the nay-sayers, Botchan actually graduates from the university although his dad was dead before he could see this unlikely miracle occur. He accepts a job teaching math somewhere in remote Shikoku a monster geographical change for an urban dweller like him. Botchan quickly assumes these rubes are beneath his intelligence especially because of his big city lifestyle where he learned true survival skills. He treats students, peers, superiors, parents, and other locals as inferior beings giving each a derogatory nickname and making it doubtful that the cause of this class warfare will survive a year of rustification. --- This Japanese version will remind readers of The Catcher in the Rye (perhaps a better way to look at this is The Catcher in the Rye is an Americanized version of Botchan as the Japanese classic was written over four decades earlier than Salinger¿s novel). This insightful classic provides a deep look at Japanese society circa 1906. The story line is a one sitting fast read as the lead character mocks everyone causing universal disdain. Readers enjoy this superb amusing translation that provides a powerful glimpse at Japanese customs through the actions of and reactions towards an arrogant antagonist. --- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.