Before he killed himself in 1972, this extraordinary Japanese master had spoken out against suicide in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech four years earlier. Both acts-the speech and the suicide-were influenced by the deaths of his proteges, Yukio Mishima and Ryunosuke Akutagawas, which at the time seemed both obscure and meaningful. This is not a contradiction but a clue. Yasunari's approach to death and desire, loss and memory-his preferred subjects-always verged on revelation but stayed suspended over life's ambiguities, which is the secret of his exquisite Pais de nieve (Snow Country, Emece, 2003) and Lo bello y lo triste (Beauty and Sadness, Emece, 2002). Yasunari was a main figure in the Japanese neo-sensualist movement of the 1920s, and his use of Western techniques gradually matured into a lyrical but precise style, indisputably Japanese but with a graceful modernist edge. This collection of short stories, chosen by the author himself in 1958, is a limpid example of his work. Readers encounter a paralyzed writer sunk in silence while a ghost walks by; a ginkgo tree that reflects a family story; a woman's earlobe that becomes the center of all affection; and the first snow that falls on Fuji, burying the memory of an old lover. All details open a cosmos of understatement in arresting, painful beauty. These tales of emptiness and compassion by a leading name in Asian literature are highly recommended for libraries and bookstores, and will appeal to all readers with high literary taste. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.