I was looking for a light and sweet book on my bookshelves the other day. You know, sometimes all you want from a book is a couple of laughs and happy images. I immediately stopped my search when I saw Sweet Bean Paste. As you can see, its cover design and colours hint that it is a cute book and the title is well, sweet! So I started reading this beauty, thinking it would make me so happy. Well, I was wrong; it almost made me cry.
Don’t get me wrong, Sweet Bean Paste is a heartwarming, sweet little book. It is full of emotions, dorayaki, cutest elderly people and cherry trees. But there is also a dark history among all these cuteness and it is devastating. I don’t want to spoil it so all I can say is this: read this if you want to read a book from Japan, full of emotions and good characters. Don’t read this if you want a light read with nice images. Enjoy!
Sweet Bean Paste
Sentaro has failed. He has a criminal record, drinks too much, and his dream of becoming a writer is just a distant memory. With only the blossoming of the cherry trees to mark the passing of time, he spends his days in a tiny confectionery shop selling dorayaki, a type of pancake filled with sweet bean paste.
But everything is about to change.
Into his life comes Tokue, an elderly woman with disfigured hands and a troubled past. Tokue makes the best sweet bean paste Sentaro has ever tasted. She begins to teach him her craft, but as their friendship flourishes, social pressures become impossible to escape and Tokue’s dark secret is revealed,
with devastating consequences.
Sweet Bean Paste is a moving novel about the burden of the past and the redemptive power of friendship. Translated into English for the first time, Durian Sukegawa’s beautiful prose is capturing hearts all over the world.
Durian Sukegawa studied oriental philosophy at Waseda University, before going on to work as a reporter in Berlin and Cambodia in the early 1990s. He has written a number of books and essays, TV programmes and films. He lives in Tokyo.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: