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Music of Light

Music of Light

by Lindsley Cameron

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The fascinating story of Hikari Oe, the brain-damaged son who inspired the Nobel Prize-winning work of novelist Kenzaburo Oe--acclaimed author of "Hiroshima Notes"--and the only savant composer in the world. of photos.


The fascinating story of Hikari Oe, the brain-damaged son who inspired the Nobel Prize-winning work of novelist Kenzaburo Oe--acclaimed author of "Hiroshima Notes"--and the only savant composer in the world. of photos.

Editorial Reviews

The New Yorker
Kenzaburo Oe is a Nobel-winning Japanese writer whose books, often about a writer father and his disabled son, are provocative mixures of fact and fiction. Oe's son Hikari was born brain-damaged, a 'monster baby,' and yet at an early age he began to compose short classical pieces of Mozartean clarity, which, one musician said, 'freed me to feel the sadness that was in my heart.' In examining the mutual dependency of these remarkable artists, this delicately crafted book becomes an extension of their works: it illuminates the meaning of selfhood in a country whose language has no word for 'privacy.
Books & Culture: A Christian Review
The nature of creativity...the "new' marketing of classical music...the current thirst for tonality and simplicity....These and many other issues all come into play with Hikari's story.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Born in 1963 with a severe brain hernia, composer Hikari Oeson of Nobel Prize-winning Japanese novelist Kenzaburo Oewas saved from death by an operation that left him brain-damaged and autistic. Today, Hikari, with an IQ measured at 65, limited speech faculties, a mental age of 12 and prone to epileptic seizures, nevertheless composes musical pieces that are mature and steeped in the Western classical idiom, and which have won him a worldwide following among CD collectors. A remarkable testament to the human spirit, Hikari's creative unfolding, as Cameron makes clear in this delicately written report, was made possible largely by Kenzaburo's all-consuming devotion, combined with constant, imaginative care from the child's mother. Freelancer Cameron sensitively uses Japanese culture to mirror American ambivalence toward the handicapped, and she documents the extraordinary degree to which Kenzaburo's involvement with his son has shaped the themes and direction of his own life and his fiction. Her inspirational account also draws on brain and cognitive research to help explain savants' singular gifts. (June)
Library Journal
The amazing story of Hikari Oe has been the inspiration for several works by his father, Kenzaburo Oe, the Nobel prize-winning writer. A world-class savant composer, Hikari was born with a deformed brain and an IQ of 65. Despite multiple disabilities, including extremely weak eyesight and being subject to frequent seizures, Hikari remembers every piece of music he has ever heard and composes classical music. In this book, Cameron, a contributor to The New Yorker and the New York Times, describes Hikari's growing up and his development as a composer, focusing on the family's nurturing and his unusually close bond with his father. Thoroughly analyzing Kenzaburo Oe's fiction, she points out the profound influence the experience of raising this unusual child has had on the famous author. Also of interest are her explorations into the mysterious phenomenon of the savant and the nature of creativity. Written with sensitivity and careful attention to detail, this book should appeal to those interested in Kenzaboro Oe, Hitari's musical career, and savantism in general.Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo
Kirkus Reviews
A little book with a large agenda: to describe the uniquely interdependent relationship of Nobel Prizeþwinning Japanese novelist Kenzaburo Oe and his severely brain-damaged son, Hikari, scrutinize the fictionalized representations of Hikari that are central to Oe's novels, appraise Hikari's musical compositions, analyze the nature of creativity, and delve into the workings of the human brain. Cameron (The Prospect of Detachment, 1988), who writes about Asian art and culture, draws on Oe's own writings and interviews with the Oe family, music reviewers, and brain specialists for this account, portions of which have appeared in the New Yorker and other publications. She explores Oe's decision to have life-saving surgery performed on his infant son's herniated brain even though it meant raising a severely handicapped child in a society strongly prejudiced against the handicapped, and she recounts the Oes' efforts to stimulate their mute son first with birdsong recordings and later with music. In a culture where fathers may have little to do with raising children, Oe was extraordinarily involved in caring for Hikari, and they remain unusually close. Oe has said that his motivation in writing fiction was to speak for Hikari, who could not speak for himself, and Cameron examines how Hikari-like characters have been a constant theme of his work. Hikari became a celebrity in his own right with the release in 1992 and 1994 of two CDs of his classical compositions. That these are not masterpieces seems clear, but that they are astonishing accomplishments is indisputable. Cameron, who has researched the world of musical savants, finds Hikari to be the only known savant composer, and shelooks for clues to his remarkable abilities in both his genes and his upbringing. In the end, the mystery remains a mystery, perhaps because Hikari is unknowable, but Cameron's engrossing account seems likely to arouse interest in the works of both father and son.

Product Details

Macmillan Library Reference
Publication date:
Inspirational Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.81(w) x 8.88(h) x 0.52(d)

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