2008年08月06日

Book Review

Yang Yi’s Prize-winning Japanese Novel
"On the Morning Blurred with the Mists of Time” (The Japanese original title is "Tokiga Nijimu Asa")「時が滲む朝」

Ms. Yang Yi, a Chinese lady residing in Japan, has recently been awarded the “Akutagawa Prize”, one of the most honorable awards for the people seeking a literary career in Japan. She has become the first writer with foreign nationality who won the prize. Her work honored is the novel titled “On the Morning Blurred with the Mists of Time” (which is my free translation from the Japanese original).
The story, staged in China and Japan, covers ten years from the end of the 1980s to the beginning of the 2000s. In a press interview after winning the prize, Yang Yi said that she had wanted to write down something about the Tiananmen Square Incident, though no reference is made to political ideologies or propaganda in the book.
With the spotlight being put on two boys in the novel, the story develops in a provincial town in China. These two hero students, after enrolling in the same university with an earnest hope to do something useful for the nation, gradually become involved in the student movements for political reforms, and get interested in American democracy as well. But after a while, they suffers a great setback amid the political turbulence in their country, and are finally expelled from the campus. The author’s narratives depict the incidents in an objective,detached manner with her personal feelings least involved.
After being forced to leave the campus, the heroes go to Japan and further continue to involve themselves in democratization activities with their country fellows. However, one of the heroes, working in a printing factory and raising his own children, gradually loses interest in politics, and finally decide to move back at the risk of being blamed in his homeland. The title of this book signifies a painful parting from the friends at the airport near Tokyo.
In the novel, Yang Yi tells only a little about the heroes’ personal communications with local people in Japan. That may come from her skillfully plotted story-telling approaches, but such writing style is not very familiar and likely to lead to different opinions in the readers' evaluation in Japan. According to the local press, it was at the second vote that the award was decided to her by the prize screening committee. After announcement of the decision, one of the members of the committee, Mr. Ishihara, issued a comment that this novel was pretty good writing, but did not make so strong an impression as her previous ones.

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