Tuesday, June 07, 2016

The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki

I read this book for my 2016 Back to the Classics Reading Challenge for the following category:

4.  A classic in translation.  Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language. Feel free to read the book in your language or the original language.
I was disappointed in this book. It got rave reviews, so I was expecting something great, but I just didn't see it that way. I thought it was a somewhat interesting story, but just barely interesting enough to keep me reading all 530 pages. I didn't like the writing style, and since it was a translation, I couldn't tell whether it was the author's style or the translation that I didn't like. In literature, you are supposed to "show, not tell," but I thought this was a perfect example of telling rather than showing. The book was about four sisters. The two older sisters (Tsuruko and Sachiko) were married; the two younger sisters (Yukiko and Taeko) were not. The youngest (Taeko) couldn't get married until her sister (Yukiko) got married. Much of the book was about trying to find a husband for Yukiko. It was interesting learning about the culture of Japan before the second world war, which was very traditional and appearance was everything.

Overall, I rated it two out of five.


Kathy A. Johnson said...

That must have been a frustrating read, all 530 pages of it. I like how you've found something positive out of the experience, though. Now on to something more interesting!

Silvia said...

Oh, I'm so sorry you didn't like it.

I loved it. I loved the writing style (and I also read it in translation). It may be our reading preferences. I love slow books like this, I enjoy the descriptions and the happenings between the four sisters. I found it very "Japanese" in that sense of not being action packed, but contemplative. Grant you, I love books about everything and nothing. I did not find it long, maybe I like to get lost in a different than mine 'universe', and dwell there for some time.

I admire how you persevere and found something good in it.

Major said...

Some sections of this novel are very long and slow. Also, I hit patches where I thought, “Oh, not another scene where….” And I would stamp my foot. But I’m glad I read it for the atmosphere and tone of life in ordinary middle-class doings in Japan in the early 20th century. I read someplace that after the war, this novel was best-seller because it made Japanese people feel so nostalgic for a way, a pace of life that was pretty much smashed to pieces by the war. I wonder if it would a good idea too to read a novel that was originally published as serial just like that – say, read only a section a week, or a month.

Carol said...

I have this book and was going to include it in this year's challenge but opted for s different book. I'd heard a lot of rave reviews also, which usually tends to artificially raise a book's interest. Will be interesting to see what it's like when I get to it.