Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The River Ki by Sawako Ariyoshi

The River Ki by Sawako Ariyoshi  (1959, translated by Mildred Tahara, 243 pages)

In July I read and  posted on Sawako Ariyoshi's most popular book, The Doctor's Wife.   Ariyoshi  is among the highest regarded female authors to emerge in Japan after WWII.    She graduated from college in 1952.   Her area of concentration was the performing arts with a special interest in Kubuki theater.  After graduation she went to work for a publishing house and began to contribute articles to literary journals.   In 1959 she received a Rockefeller Grant to study performing arts for a year at Sarah Lawrence College in the USA.    By 1968 she was able to devote her full efforts to writing novels, short stories and essays.   She never married or had children and died peacefully in her sleep in 1984.

When I posted on The Doctor's Wife readers told me that the author's The River Ki was a better book.
The River Ki begins around 1900 just before the Russian-Japanese war and ends in the middle 1950s as Japan begins to enter its period of post WWII prosperity. It is set on the banks of The River Ki in the Osaka area.    The book focuses on the lives of three women in the same family, a grandmother and her daughter and granddaughter.    Ariyoshi does a very good job of developing the characters of the women.   I found them all very believable.    She also presents the effects of the historical events that take place in the background in a way that lets us see what it would have been like to live in Japan during the period of the novel.   We also get a good look at the dynamics of the mother-daughter relationship.    I think I agree this is a better novel than The Doctor's Wife.     

Mel u


Anonymous said...

I think I was one of those wasn't I? Now, you should read The twilight years...which I also enjoyed though I think I do like The River Ki the best.

JoAnn said...

I'm still waiting for my library hold of The Doctor's Wife (number 8 on the list now). Think I'll pop over to the website and see if The River Ki is available...

Suko said...

Mel, you are learning a lot about women by reading. This sounds like another great choice for the JLC-4.

JoAnn said...

Now that I've read The Doctor's Wife, I will add this to my wish list... especially if you say it is even better.