A Personal matter Kenzaburo oe

Kenzaburo oe is one of Japans foremost writers ,having lived in france in the sixties and studied french literature ,make him more accessable than some of his contemporarys with a more western style of writing .His own son was born with a brain disorder and this one event has led to disability being a recurring motif in his books ,A personal matter is considered on of his best he also on the nobel in 1994 .

A personal matter is about Bird a cramming school teacher and a bit of a daydreamer ,he dreams of escaping Japan and heading to Africa staring at maps and imaging living their with his wife who is with child .When the child is born it has a brain damange and its life is placing on a cliff edge ,Bird is struggling with this and this leads him in to a number of life choices after he has gone on a downward spiral want his son to die knowing that was wrong descending in to a bottle and pleasures of the flesh with an ex girlfriend ,but this leaves bird seeming empty and needing to make some important life decisions for himself ,his wife and new-born son .

Bird was sitting on the stairs in front of the intensive care ward ,gripping his thighs with grimy hands in a battle with the fatigue had been hounding him since his tears had dried ,when the one-eyed doctor emerged from the ward looking thwarted .

Burd in the hospital just after his son is born .

This book has a real memoir is sense at times ,like oe is writing a what might of happened in his life with his own son ,the sense that he has lived through some of the Bird’s feeling when his own son was born but had chosen a different coping mechanism than he had done ,Bird is a well drawn character and I got in this daydreams head as he struggle with his son’s birth ,on a personal level as I have support people with learning disabilities for over twenty years I was interested in the insight of being a parent of some on with a disability ,seeing how Bird didn’t cope and his guilt is something I have heard parents of people I looked after speak about with their own Children ,I shall be reading oe again thou this book isn’t the easiest read it has and will stick with me for a long time ,may I also point out that John Nathan translations stands the test of time still making the prose seem fresh and flowing .This book was one of their non structured reading group choices that frances and other run

August 2010


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