Naomi is the third book I’ve read from Tanizaki after Key and The Makioka Sisters. I’ve read the first two books immediately, and with much excitement. But my experience with this book was different. I read this book slowly, and I want it to end, on every page. The girls in my book club had finished the book before I did, and they made faces when talking about the book. After a while, I totally understand why they hated my book of choice. Naomi is a wicked young woman, and the narrator of the story is a fool. He is such a fool that you just want to slap him, hard.
This love will drive you mad
Naomi unveils Westernization in Japan and tells a love story that is very tense and infuriating. We listen to the story from a man who is in his thirties and is in love with Naomi, a fifteen-year-old girl. Naomi grows into a beautiful, elegant and a charming young woman under his auspices. But after a while, a different side of Naomi appears. And we start to see what a man can do for love. You’re going to think about whether it’s love, obsession, or plain madness. You will want to scream at the man, and even want to slap him hard. If you are going to read Tanizaki for the first time, please do not start with this book, you may hate the author completely. Naomi is a book for the lovers of Tanizaki. I would suggest The Makioki Sisters for the first-timers.
About the book: Naomi
Junichiro Tanizaki’s Naomi is both a hilarious story of one man’s obsession and a brilliant reckoning of a nation’s cultural confusion. When twenty-eight-year-old Joji first lays eyes upon the teenage waitress Naomi, he is instantly smitten by her exotic, almost Western appearance. Determined to transform her into the perfect wife and to whisk her away from the seamy underbelly of post-World War I Tokyo, Joji adopts and ultimately marries Naomi, paying for English and music lessons that promise to mold her into his ideal companion. But as she grows older, Joji discovers that Naomi is far from the naïve girl of his fantasies. And, in Tanizaki’s masterpiece of lurid obsession, passion quickly descends into comically helpless masochism.
About the author: Junichiro Tanizaki
Jun’ichirō Tanizaki was one of the major writers of modern Japanese literature, and perhaps the most popular Japanese novelist after Natsume Sōseki. Some of his works present a shocking world of sexuality and destructive erotic obsessions.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: