Translated from the Japanese by John Bester
Fiction/WWII/Japan, first appeared in Japan in installments, 1965
Kodansha International, pb, 297 p.
Black Rain is centered around the story of a young woman who was caught in the radioactive "black rain" that fell after the bombing of Hiroshima. lbuse bases his tale on real-life diaries and interviews with victims of the holocaust; the result is a book that is free from sentimentality yet manages to reveal the magnitude of the human suffering caused by the atom bomb. The life of Yasuko, on whom the black rain fell, is changed forever by periodic bouts of radiation sickness and the suspicion that her future children, too, may be affected.I really don’t know what to say about this book. I can’t say that I ‘enjoyed’ it because of the subject matter, and at times it was very depressing to read. But I think Ibuse did a formidable job showing the result of the bomb on a purely human level. The story doesn’t concern itself with blame or politics or history or right and wrong. It is simply the story of some ordinary people coping in an extraordinary situation. The narrative is very matter-of-fact, never becoming melodramatic or overly emotional but this actually makes the detailed descriptions more powerful. There are many vivid, horrific scenes that have been burned into my mind. It’s certainly not for the squeamish. I’m very glad I read it though, and will not likely forget it or the images and artifacts we saw in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum anytime soon.
lbuse tempers the horror of his subject with the gentle humor for which he is famous. His sensitivity to the complex web of emotions in a traditional community torn asunder by this historical event has made Black Rain one of the most acclaimed treatments of the Hiroshima story.
Review of Black Rain at BookSlut
My Rating: 4/5
(#14 for 2008, What's in a Name Challenge -Colour)
Nothing stood on the scorched waste at the center of the city save the skeletons of a few buildings; apart from these, the only thing that met the eye was a litter of carbonized timbers and fragments of tile. The occasional black or white speck moving in the wilderness would be a human being – searching, as likely as not, for the remains of a relative or a friend. It was a scene of unremitting desolation. (p. 160)
Who cared, after all, which side won? The only important thing was to end it all soon as possible: rather an unjust peace, than a “just” war! (p. 161)*photos taken inside the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
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