Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids

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Overview

The first novel by Japan's most celebrated living writer, "Nip The Buds, Shoot the Kids" recounts the exploits of fifteen teenage reformatory boys evacuated to a remote mountain village in wartime. The narrator who acts as nominal leader of the small band, his younger brother and their comrades are all delinquent outcasts, feared and detested by the local peasants. When plague breaks out, their hosts abandon them and flee, then blockade them inside the empty village, together with a young Korean, an army deserter...
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Overview

The first novel by Japan's most celebrated living writer, "Nip The Buds, Shoot the Kids" recounts the exploits of fifteen teenage reformatory boys evacuated to a remote mountain village in wartime. The narrator who acts as nominal leader of the small band, his younger brother and their comrades are all delinquent outcasts, feared and detested by the local peasants. When plague breaks out, their hosts abandon them and flee, then blockade them inside the empty village, together with a young Korean, an army deserter and a girl evacuee. However, the boys' brief, doomed attempt to build autonomous lives of self-respect, love and tribal valour inevitably fails with the reflux of death and the adult nightmare of war.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Oe, who won the 1994 Nobel Prize for Literature, was just 23 in 1958, when he published this wrenching first novel in Japan. From the opening paragraph's description of a river ``bearing away at tremendous speed the corpses of dogs, rats, and cats,'' it is clear that this is a story of innocents-or at least relative innocents-carried violently by forces beyond their control. In the waning days of WWII, a group of Japanese reform-school boys are evacuated to a remote village in a densely wooded valley. The villagers treat the teenagers horribly, making them bury a mountain of animal corpses, locking them into a shed for the night and feeding them raw potatoes. The unnamed narrator-one of the group's leaders-discovers that a plague is ravaging the valley. When a couple of people are infected by the disease, the villagers panic. Believing the boys to be infected, the villagers remove themselves to the other side of the valley and block the only road out of town. At first, the boys can think only of escape, but then, like the boys in Lord of the Flies, they start to make the village their own: they bury the dead humans and perform a sort of sacrament; they care for an abandoned, infirm girl; they hold a hunting festival to ensure continued abundance. The narrator becomes the girl's lover; his younger brother adopts a stray pup; an unexpected snowfall sparks a midwinter celebration. But each pleasant turn, every apparently liberating step away from unremitting brutality, serves to make the characters' inevitable future suffering even more painful. The end arrives with the suddenness and fury of a tornado, as disease and war catch up to the boys. Oe is considered by many to be Japan's greatest postwar novelist. It's easy to see why. Here, his writing is crisp and lovely and gruesomely perfect. First serial to Grand Street. (May)
Library Journal
Available for the first time in English, this first novel by the winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize in Literature is assured an audience both among those who are familiar with Oe's work and eagerly await the translations that will inevitably follow the awarding of the prize and those who are newly aware of Oe as a major literary figure and wish to sample the range of his work. For the latter group, this assured translation of a novel published in 1958 when Oe was a young student makes a wonderful starting point. A stark, sometimes disturbing tale of a group of young reform school youths being relocated in war-torn Japan, the simple story breathes with mythic intensity and hints at the wealth of untapped expressive power in Oe. An added bonus is a fine introduction that gives a succinct factual and theoretical overview of Oe and his work. Highly recommended.-Mark Woodhouse, Elmira Coll. Lib., N.Y.
Chicago Tribune
"Stark and beautiful allegory... Simple, elegant, harrowing."
The Boston Globe
"Unflinching about every fact of life... it presents a world powerfully remembered, powerfully imagined."
The New York Times
"An amazing achievement... Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids has much in common with both Lord of Flies and The Plague."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802134639
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/28/1996
  • Series: Oe, Kenzaburo
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 492,887
  • Lexile: 1000L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2008

    Disturbing adolescent images

    This novel was a selection for a senior World Literature class that I taught. I did not select the novel. It was disturbing for me to read, and the 12th graders had a difficult time dealing with some of the images. Once they surmounted the graphic descriptions, they were able to understand the reason Oe wrote this book. I personally became tired of the continual references to things adolescent boys do to try and shock one another. The message of the story is gripping, and will make one aware of some of the 'other side' to WWII.

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    Posted September 4, 2011

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    Posted February 26, 2009

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    Posted November 6, 2008

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