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Sunday, February 26, 2012

告白 Kokuhaku (Confessions) by 湊かなえ Kanae Minato




"Wow." That was the first thought I had after finishing this book. I had read books in which the same event was shown from multiple perspectives before, but never one quite so dark.

Summary:  On the last day of school before Spring Break, a teacher makes a special announcement to her class: her little girl was murdered, by two of the students in her class (whom she calls Boy A and Boy B). The rest of the novel explains the how and why of the event from the viewpoints of people directly and indirectly involved with the murder.


Plot & Characters: Reading this novel was like watching a train wreck: I knew it would end badly, yet it was hard to stop reading. Throughout the book, it shows many different viewpoints of the same events, each time showing a little more of what happened. Yet we can never be quite sure who is telling the truth about what, as all of the characters narrating might have something to hide
To tell the truth, it wasn't an easy read (and I'm not talking about the Japanese here). There was a dark, foreboding atmosphere which filled all the pages. It wasn't quite like a horror novel, and the identity of the murderers was shown too early for it to be much of a mystery novel. It had the air of a dark ghost story without the ghost.


Prose & Readability: The book begins with the teacher's "confession" but if you can make it through that, the parts told by the students are much easier. The book was a pretty quick read, and I wouldn't say the prose is hard, but it is less straightforward than some other books I've read. I would recommend waiting to read this until after you've read a few novels.

Adaptations:The book has been made into a film (which I intend to review on my other blog soon), and a manga version.

Who I would recommend this to: Those who like dark stories, or ghost stories.


First Paragraph: 

 牛乳を飲み終わった人から、紙パックを自分の番号のケースに戻して席に着くように。
 全員飲み終わったようですね。「終業式の日まで牛乳かよ」なんて声も聞こえましたけどミルクタイムも本日で終了です。お疲れさまでした。
「来年はないのか?」ありません。本年度このS中学校は『厚生労働省・全国中高生乳製晶促進運動』のモデル校に指定されていました。
 そのため、みんなに毎日、牛乳を二〇〇ミリリットルずつ飲んでもらっていたのです。
 四月の身体測定では、身長の伸び率も骨密度も、同年齢の全国平均を上回っているのではないでしょうか? 楽しみですね。
「自分たちは実験台か?し確かに、お腹が少しゆるめだったり牛乳嫌いな子にとっては災難な年だったかもしれません。



The first paragraph is provided for readers to help judge for themselves whether a book is a good fit for their current level, and is presented with all furigana shown in the actual book. 

2 comments:

  1. Hey Bokusenou,

    Finally a review again! :) I've checked your page every day, man~
    Anyway, I do also posess this book however I find it contains a lot of kanji compounds in the beginning I have never seen before and up until now I had added like 1000 words from 50 pages or so! (Too much!) On top, I find the sentences long at times and I struggle with 'did you understand this now or not?' questions all the time, so I stopped reading/adding vocabs to anki.....

    Meanwhile I discovered I became stronger in Kanzen Master Dokkai! :D

    Regards,
    T.

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    Replies
    1. Really? ^-^; RSS is much easier to check for that kind of thing...but thanks a lot! I've been busy with college, and haven't had as much time to read/watch things, but I'm about halfway done with 人間資格, which is surprising easy for a non-modern novel, though if you think the sentences in 告白 are long, you might want to stay away from 人間資格 for a while. ^^; The sentences go on and on. It is a really good book though. When I glanced at the English translation at my college library I was shocked: The sentences were all so short and snappy it had a completely different feel, even though content-wise it was basically the same. I guess that's what people mean by something being "lost in translation". I don't think I would be good at translating prose, because capturing the "feel" of prose looks really hard.

      That's great! Are you using the new version with the new levels (N2, N3, etc) or the old "級" one? The old 2級 one seriously helped me pass N2.

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