Botchan caught my eye instantly among the many books on my shelves. That’s just because Japanese literature is all I want to consume some days, especially if I’m travelling. So I mainly take along Japanese literature on my travels. I like the idea of reading an unusual Japanese author on a plane. Botchan was a great choice.
Botchan is the first book I’ve read from the acclaimed Japanese author Natsume Soseki. Soseki wrote this in 1906, but it is still highly popular in Japan mainly because they read this during their school years. On the other hand, I could not fall in love with Soseki instantly, but if I read more of his books, I’m sure there will be strong ties between us and he won’t disappoint. Also, I can see that he has this distinct, specific style to himself which I’m sure I’ll miss. Although this book is short, it contains a lot. You’ll learn a great deal about Japanese men and their lives, among other things. And I think we can say that it may be considered as Japan’s The Catcher in the Rye. If you want to learn more about Japanese culture, you’ll devour this book. And I’m sure it will be nice to read one of the most widely known books in Japan if you ever want to visit the country. Enjoy!
About the book: Botchan
Like The Catcher in the Rye or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Botchan. A hilarious tale about a young man’s rebellion against “the system” in a country school, is a classic of its kind. Among Japanese readers both young and old it has enjoyed a timeless popularity. Making it, according to Donald Keene, “probably the most widely read novel in modern Japan.”
The setting is Japan’s deep south, where the author himself spent some time teaching English in a boys’ school. Into this conservative world, with its social proprieties and established pecking order. Breezes Botchan, down from the big city, with scant respect for either his elders or his noisy young charges; and the result is a chain of collisions large and small.
Much of the story seems to occur in summer, against the drone of cicadas. And in many ways also this is a summer book light, funny, never slow-moving. Here, in a lively new translation much better suited to Western tastes than any of its forebears. Botchan’s homespun appeal is all the more apparent, and even those who have never been near the sunlit island. On which these calamitous episodes also take place should find in it uninterrupted entertainment.
About the author: Natsume Soseki
Natsume Sōseki, born Natsume Kin’nosuke, was a Japanese novelist. He is best known for his novels Kokoro, Botchan, I Am a Cat and his unfinished work Light and Darkness. He was also a scholar of British literature and composer of haiku, kanshi, and fairy tales.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: