Title: A Dark Night's Passing
Japanese Title: 暗夜行路
Author: Naoya Shiga
Publication Year: 1993
Publisher: Kodansha America
OK, so I read this one in English because I happened to spot it at the library and couldn't resist (Also, the Japanese version was a hundred pages longer). It's supposed to be an 私小説, and I loved the last one of those I read (Touson Shimazaki's 破戒). It also got very good reviews. This is why I shouldn't put so much faith in reviews..
Kensaku, a young man confronts his demons and family secrets.
Plot & Characters: Plot, what plot? Or rather, the plot was so rambling I was wondering when it would get to the good part. It was just too hard to connect to Kensaku. In some ways he was such a jerk that I wondered if the author had wanted him to be hated, and yet I didn't even hate him, because hating requires energy, and this novel was too bland for that. Kensaku is the filter through which we see the world in this novel, and yet that just seemed to make every character nicer and more compassionate than him. The one thing I liked about the book, was the descriptions of Taishou era society, those parts were full of life, and provided interesting insights into how Japan was like back then, but trudging through the rest of the novel wasn't worth it. I will note one thing though, this book makes a great sleep aid.
Prose: The prose was clear and tight, which initially drew me to the novel, it's just that it seems to lose all sense of pacing as it goes on, or maybe it didn't have much to begin with.
Who I recommend it to: Those who like to read about historical Japanese society, those who don't mind rambling novels.