Kōbō Abe: 砂の女 (The Woman in the Dunes)

The latest addition to my website is Kōbō Abe‘s 砂の女 (The Woman in the Dunes). A Japanese teacher is a keen collector of insects and is always hoping to find an unknown species. One day, without telling anyone where he is going, he sets off to a remote sea shore. He misses the last bus but the locals tell him he can stay there. Their houses are in deep holes in the sand so he descends a rope ladder to the house of a woman, who lost her husband and daughter to the sand. He learns that she has to spend most of the night shovelling the sand to protect not only her house but the entire village. He soon learns that they have trapped him there and he has to help her. The book is about his attempts to escape, his relationship with the woman, his thoughts about his life before the sand and how he has to adapt to a completely new life. We know from the very beginning that he will disappear for at leat seven years, as he is declared legally dead. This is a superb and justly famous psychological novel.

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