Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids

Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids

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by Kenzaburo Oe
     
 

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Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids recounts the exploits of 15 teenage reformatory boys evacuated in wartime to a remote mountain village where they are feared and detested by the local peasants. When plague breaks out, the villagers flee, blocking the boys inside the deserted town. Their brief attempt to build autonomous lives of self-respect, love, and tribal valor is

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Overview

Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids recounts the exploits of 15 teenage reformatory boys evacuated in wartime to a remote mountain village where they are feared and detested by the local peasants. When plague breaks out, the villagers flee, blocking the boys inside the deserted town. Their brief attempt to build autonomous lives of self-respect, love, and tribal valor is doomed in the face of death and the adult nightmare of war.

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:
06/28/1996
Series:
Oe, Kenzaburo
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
1,427,402
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile:
1000L (what's this?)

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