The diving pool by Yoko Ogawa


The diving pool by Yoko Ogawa

Japanese fiction

Translator – Stephen Snyder

Orginial titles – Dailbingu puru ,dormitori and Nishin Karenda

Source – Library

Well earlier in the year I read Yoko Ogawa latest collection revenge a collection of dark interlinking stories and feel in love with her style so knowing Tony was bound to do January in Japan again I decide to read another of her books and found this one in the library ,which was the first of her books to be translated into English .The bio on the rear cover tells me she has written more than 20 works of fiction and non-fiction so it means we will hopefully get some more of her books in English .It also said she had won every major prize in Japan and after this book one can see why .

SOmetimes I wish I could describe how wonderful I feel in those few seconds from the time he spreads his arms above his head , as if trying to grab something , to the instant he vanishes into the water .But I can never find the right words .Perhaps it’s because he’s falling through time ,to a place where words can never reach .

Aya describes the feeling as her adoptive brother Jun waits to dive .

The diving pool is a collection of three novellas that are all about fifty pages in length ,unconnected barring the fact the lead character in each story is a female and at that a seemingly unhappy female in different ways and for different reasons .The title story involves an adopted daughter and the actual son of the family she lives with ,she sits watch him in the diving pool .She falls in love with this Boy Jun ,but this leads her life in an unusual direction .Then we have a story about a women how may or may not be pregnant and her sister .There is a feel of more behind this story than there seems at first and also a wanting to know more of the sister who is recording here pregnancy in a diary .The last story involves two women that are related the older women is waiting to leave Japan but is drawn back to a college dorm by her younger cousin and a strange collection of people who are living there .All these novellas show how fragile humans can be .

May 16 (Saturday), 25 weeks + 5 days

Sometimes I think about my sister’s relation ship with her husband – particularly about his role in her pregnancy if he ever had one .

When she’s having on of her crises , he looks at her timidly and stammers meaningless little phrases meant to comfort her , but in the end all he can do is put his arm around her .The he gets the sweet expression as though he’s sure that’s all she really wanted anyway .

A sister record her sister pregnancy day by day but is there more to this than seems ?

I love the way Ogawa makes the world seem so dark ,without being depressing her prose are readable but tinge with the worst of human nature ,but also encompass the big moments in life here we have first love that is tinged with being wrong ,a women struggling having a baby .Two women face changes in the lives .I felt these were more unsettling after I had read them and sat back and thought of each one and what happened .There is something so simple in Ogawa prose style something so Japanese like the art of a bonsai or origami each sentence has been chosen and trimmed down to make each novella be perfect not to flabby so the point she is wanting to make shines through .

Have you read Ogawa ?

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Messy_tony
    Jan 01, 2014 @ 07:20:59

    I loved it too Stu, I read and reviewed it as part of Bellezza’s Japanese Literature Challenge back in July ( – sorry for the blatant plug). I liked to references throughout to the human body and the decay, a wonderful piece of work. Well done on being 1st cab off the rank for the January Challenge.


  2. whisperinggums
    Jan 01, 2014 @ 08:38:45

    Love your description of her style Stu. I haven’t read Ogawa yet, but your description of her style rings true for a few Japanese writers I’ve read. I love how many of them achieve a dark tone with a clear, simple looking style.


  3. Col
    Jan 01, 2014 @ 10:23:16

    I’ve not read Ogawa but I will look out for her now. I like the idea of prose that’s pared down to the simplest form – it’s been a feature in other books I’ve read and enjoyed before.


  4. kaggsysbookishramblings
    Jan 01, 2014 @ 11:50:17

    I went through a phase of reading Japanese writers some years back (mainly Mishima) but I’ve not heard of Ogawa – definitely sounds worth reading!


  5. SilverSeason
    Jan 01, 2014 @ 11:52:05

    I read The Housekeeper and the Professor and give it a strong recommendation, both for the detail of the prose and the development of the characters. The Diving Pool I did not enjoy so much, finding a little too much mystification for my taste.


  6. kimbofo
    Jan 01, 2014 @ 19:23:25

    I want to read this one, Stu. I read Revenge last January (for Tony’s January in Japan) and thought it really intriguing — it’s a set of interlinked short stories with recurring motifs. Prior to that I read Hotel Iris and found it kooky and weird, but strangely mesmirising.


  7. Bina
    Jan 01, 2014 @ 22:07:07

    I loved housekeeper and the professor and hotel iris! This one sounds great as well, can’t wait to read it.


  8. Jacqui (@jacquiwine)
    Jan 16, 2014 @ 10:10:43

    I loved the unsettling nature of these stories. There’s something quite dark and twisted running through her work and yet there are moments of beauty too…it’s a strange and beguiling mix.

    I read Revenge last year so I think Hotel Iris might be the one to try next.


  9. Trackback: Women in translation | Winstonsdad's Blog

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January 2014


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