April 9, 2014
March 28, 2023 March 31, 2023
10 Books in Translation in 2023, Reading by the Numbers, The Backlist Reader, Translated Book Goals
1930s, Southern Japan. Akino, a young scholar of anthropic geography from Kyosho university, travels to the small island of Osojima to carry out field research. Soon his study trip turns into a pilgrimage in search of himself and in a deep existential reflection, in the aftermath of a serious and triple loss (girlfriend, parents and professor / mentor). The pristine nature of the island, its subtropical flora, sea lions, Japanese capricorns, numerous species of birds form the backdrop to the "pilgrimage" of the protagonist, flanked by some emblematic local inhabitants and the local historical past linked to shamanism , esoteric Buddhism and Shintoism. In the finale, set about fifty years later and full of surprises, Akino will draw conclusions about his life, once again thanks to Osojima and his magic. The lies of the sea is a rare pearl in today's Japanese literary scene: an intense and complex story, with important references to local history and religion and their mysteries; but at the same time it is a novel about the meaning of life and the rediscovery of its fundamental values, in our increasingly adrift age.
About the book
This book at this date doesn’t have an English translation. The title could be translated with “The Lies of the Sea”. The protagonist, Akino, visits a Japanese island and is fascinated by it. He returns 50 years later to find that the island has changed due to modernism. The book explores themes such as nature, spirituality and cultural change.
What I think
The book is very dreamlike, we see Akino’s journey both physically and internally. I must say that the part that struck me the most, however, is the final part when he returns to the island. At first he arrives on the island to do research, but in the end he didn’t write anything and maybe that’s why the island has become what it is. This teaches us that if there is no memory for the future generations, all is lost and it is a pity that modernism destroys nature and places that were sacred to our ancestors in this way. Who knows how much history has been lost with the excuse of modernising the world.