Shipwrecksby Akira Yoshimura
Pub. Date: 02/01/2000
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Isaku is a nine-year-old boy living in a remote, desperately poor fishing village on the coast of Japan. His people catch barely enough fish to live on, and so must distill salt to sell to neighboring villages. But this industry serves another, more sinister purpose: the fires of the salt cauldrons lure passing ships toward the shore and onto rocky shoals. When… See more details below
Isaku is a nine-year-old boy living in a remote, desperately poor fishing village on the coast of Japan. His people catch barely enough fish to live on, and so must distill salt to sell to neighboring villages. But this industry serves another, more sinister purpose: the fires of the salt cauldrons lure passing ships toward the shore and onto rocky shoals. When a ship runs aground, the villagers slaughter the crew and loot the cargo for rice, wine, and rich delicacies. One day a ship founders on the rocks. But Isaku learns that its cargo is far deadlier than could ever be imagined. Shipwrecks, the first novel by the great Japanese writer Yoshimura to be translated into English, is a stunningly powerful, Gothic tale of fate and retribution.
- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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- 5.20(w) x 11.04(h) x 0.53(d)
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A slow, but increasingly sinister and gothic coming of age story, set in medieval Japanese fishing village on the edge of starvation. Part of the pleasure of the book is in details of daily life in this strange, bleak fishing village were they must to eke out a meager subsistence from the sea. How they catch fish, collect bark to make clothes and burry their dead. The sea cannot sustain the village and they survive by luring cargo boats to crash of their rocky shores, killing the sailors and distributing the bounty. Then there is enough food and no one has to be sold into indentured servitude. This is how the village has survived for centuries. One day a sinister cargo arrives on a ghostly ship and brining deadly retribution. A beautiful moving gothic story about fate.
'Shipwrecks' is a classic in the making. This book will move you and dissapoint you by the realism of life that occurs in this novel. An old Japenese tradition that makes life bearable to the residents of this poor community also brings about horrors only imaginable to the men and women that have ever defeated any foe. Brillantly written and very fast-paced, this book will show you how difficult life is in a household that bears no father, a strict mother, and competition between the residents. This book is the for the first time in English, and it is a honor that we are able to read this masterpiece. Read this book for a religious experience, adventure, romance, heart-break, and a little touch of the old ways. If not for these reasons, read it for a closer look into humanity.
Languid, beautifully ascetic prose tells the story of a young boy¿s coming of age in an extremely poor fishing village on the medieval Japanese coastline. Isaku  is primed to take over as head of the household after his father sells himself into indentured servitude in a neighboring village. This wonderfully crafted snapshot of an ancient lifestyle tells of his slowly developing fishing techniques, his interaction with his mother and siblings, and his later attempts at wooing a village girl. Surviving always on the brink of starvation, the village has for centuries employed a technique of luring and beaching passing ships to supplement their staples. Once the ships have had their bottoms ripped by the rocks, the villagers kill the remaining crew and dismantle and disseminate the ship skeleton and its cargo [rice, wine, sugar, etc.]. One good size `haul¿ of this type would last a family many years. Like the reader, Isaku is gradually introduced to the various methodologies employed in the creation of the salt fires which lure the ships during stormy nights. The novel spans the three years of the fathers servitude and presents the unvarying, but vitally important changes of the season which bring their own seafood type and technique for capture. This translation¿s writing matches the sparseness of the village, presenting itself with the stark beauty of a crashing Japanese reef. One certainly gets lost in the wonderful descriptions of this far-away time and place. Conflict arrives at the hind end of this novel in a whirlwind conclusion, the abrupt finality mirroring anguish and despondency in the reader as well as Isaku. A very intriguing and recommended read.