Dazzlingly original, Kobo Abe's The Woman in the Dunes is one of the premier Japanese novels in the twentieth century, and this Penguin Classics edition contains a new introduction by David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas. Niki Jumpei, an amateur entomologist, searches the scorching desert for beetles. As night falls he is forced to seek shelter in an eerie village, half-buried by huge sand dunes. He awakes to the terrifying realisation that the villagers have imprisoned him with a young woman at the bottom of a vast sand pit.
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Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? The Woman in the Dunes , by celebrated writer and thinker Kobo Abe, combines the essence of myth, suspense and the existential novel. After missing the last bus home following a day trip to the seashore, an amateur entomologist is offered lodging for the night at the bottom of a vast sand pit.
But when he attempts to leave the next morning, he quickly discovers that the locals have other plans. Held captive with seemingly no chance of escape, he is tasked with shoveling back the ever-advancing sand dunes that threaten to destroy the village. His only companion is an odd young woman.
Together their fates become intertwined as they work side by side at this Sisyphean task. Read more Read less. Review "Devious, addictive. Never less than compulsive. Abe is an accomplished stylist. Abe creates on the page an unexpected impulsion. One continues reading, on and on.
One of the premier Japanese novels of the twentieth century, The Women in the Dunes combines the essence of myth, suspense, and the existential novel.
In a remote seaside village, Niki Jumpei, a teacher and amateur entomologist, is held captive with a young woman at the bottom of a vast sand pit where, Sisyphus-like, they are pressed into shoveling off the ever-advancing sand dunes that threaten the village. In he received a medical degree from Tokyo Imperial University, but he never practiced medicine.
All of Abe's books have been bestsellers in Japan and he was the recipient of numerous literary awards and prizes, including the Yomiuri Prize for The Woman in the Dunes in He collaborated with director Hiroshi Teshigahara on film adaptations of four of his novels--including The Woman in the Dunes --and was also widely known as a dramatist.
He died in Read more. No customer reviews. How does Amazon calculate star ratings? The machine learned model takes into account factors including: the age of a review, helpfulness votes by customers and whether the reviews are from verified purchases. Review this product Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon. Verified Purchase. Kobo Abe's novel "The Woman in the Dunes" tells the story of a vacationing teacher who heads off alone to a remote seaside village in Japan intending to capture insects for his collection, only to find himself captured by villagers and left trapped with a young, widowed woman in a deep sand pit where he is expected to help her with the daily work of shoveling away the endlessly accumulating sand.
Shocked by this sudden and bizarre turn of events, he's forced to adjust to his harsh new surroundings while desperately trying to figure out a way to escape.
This rather unusual story is presented with gritty realism, but it's much more than just a straightforward suspense or horror tale. Rather, Abe uses the setup to explore existential ideas, and he focuses on the nature of human relationships, of work, and of life itself.
The captive teacher ruminates often about his tense relationship with the woman he's found himself trapped with, and about matters of a more philosophical nature he often recalls, in great detail, meaningful conversations with people from his past. I enjoyed this novel, finding it more accessible than Abe's "The Box Man.
I continually discovered memorable passages throughout if you enjoy underlining or highlighting notable quotes while reading, this is definitely the book for you. Much like the ever-present sand described in the story, thoughts of this book and its characters aren't easily shaken off.
A final note: to anyone interested in reading another work that is in many ways similar to "The Woman in the Dunes," I suggest the novel "Concrete Island" by J. The heat and the feeling of being trapped, the toil of endless labor, and the sand will all get into your mind. Especially the sand. In the end the novel may leave you wondering how much difference there is between a person held prisoner in a pit and forced to shovel sand endlessly, and the rest of us enjoying television programs and walks in the park and what we call freedom, but all toiling and heading to the same destination.
I'll take my illusions of freedom over the sand pit but this is a fascinating story. One could not do without repetition in life, like the beating of the heart, but it was also true that the beating of the heart was not all there was to life. Or maybe as a tale of soul-destroying horror, resignation and love.
Form your own view, there are many facets to this story. But they would lick forever, and the wounds would never heal, and in the end their tongues would be worn away. Our entomological protagonist, Niki Jumpei, managed to break free of Abe's stereotype - homosexual he was not, sexual fantasies were more his thing and Freud would have had a field day with his fantasies and hallucinations ; and nor was he suicidal, showing a grim determination to hang on to life in his hell-hole in the dunes.
Like a canary in a mine this surreal novel confirms life persists in the harshest conditions. Hope lost and found and lost again keeps the reader in nearly the same psychological distress as the protagonist. The book meditates on sand: the Sisyphusian task of moving it, the scientific particularities and qualities of it, and above all the symbolic unstoppable movement of it.
While never quite rising to redemptive, the novel eventually instills a quiet satisfaction with the inexorable and irresistible passing of a life. I am new to Japanese literature. I recently saw the movie version of this and was immediately intrigued. I am almost done the book now and I am very impressed.
The premise is not scientifically possible, but that in no way takes away from the book. I particularly like the way the book becomes less and less real and more and more fantastic as it progresses. It is ostensibly possible for everything in the book to happen, and that makes it even more interesting. The writing style is simple.
I don't know if that is a reflection of the Japanese or just this translation. I wish I could always read literature in the language it was written, but alas, that isn't possible. Go to Amazon. Back to top. Get to Know Us. Shopbop Designer Fashion Brands. Alexa Actionable Analytics for the Web. DPReview Digital Photography.
The Woman in the Dunes
It won the Yomiuri Prize for literature, and an English translation and a film adaptation appeared in In ,  Jumpei Niki,  a schoolteacher from Tokyo, visits a fishing village to collect insects. After missing the last bus, he is led by the villagers, in an act of apparent hospitality, to a house in the dunes that can be reached only by rope ladder. The next morning the ladder is gone and he finds he is expected to keep the house clear of sand with the woman living there, with whom he is also to produce children. He eventually gives up trying to escape when he comes to realize that returning to his old life would give him no more liberty. After seven years, he is proclaimed officially dead. It won that year's Yomiuri Prize for literature.
Late to the Party: Kōbō Abe’s ‘The Woman in the Dunes’
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The protagonist of The Woman in the Dunes is Niki Jumpei, an amateur entomologist who, on a weekend trip from the city, discovers a bizarre village in the dunes where residents live in deep sand pits. Imprisoned with a widow in one of the pits, he must shovel the omnipresent sand that threatens to bury the community. Showing more similarities to the works of Franz Kafka than to those of Japanese contemporaries, The Woman in the Dunes is noted for its unusual plot, its detailed descriptions of the sand, and its existential examination of the human condition. The Woman in the Dunes. Info Print Cite.