2013 Book #59: Snow Country

2013 Book #59: Snow Country

snowcountrySnow Country is a short Japanese novel that’s been on my list for quite a while. It’s another one that Goodreads insisted I’d like, so it kept popping up in my recommendations list. I really should listen to them more often because I really liked this novel. It’s just so short that I read it within about 24 hours, so it’s almost a blur.

It’s a traditional Japanese novel, and it was a refreshing change from the weird and messed up books I usually read by authors from that country (being the two Murakamis). It’s about a geisha who lives in a town in the mountains popular with tourists for its hot springs and skiing. Shimamura, the male protagonist, often leaves his wife and family to travel to this region, especially once he meets Komako, a geisha who lives there. They spend lots of time together, and she falls in love with him. All I’ll say after that is that the ending is amazing, and it’s worth reading the novel for the last few pages.

Snow Country was a welcome reprieve after The Magus. I don’t think I’d ever read a traditional Japanese novel before – my experiences before were with (all of) Haruki Murakami, one of my favorite authors; Ryu Murakami, who writes disturbing novels; and Banana Yoshimoto‘s Kitchen and The Lake. Haruki Murakami and Yoshimoto write magical realist fiction, and the former’s writing is full of American culture. Yoshimoto’s writing is much less influenced by America, but I think it fits best under the contemporary literary fiction umbrella and, in a lot of ways, is more similar to the Murakamis than to Kawabata‘s writing. Ryu Murakami is in his own effed-up world.

Anyway, it’s nice to read a novel so entrenched in traditional Japanese culture, about which I know very little. My knowledge of geisha, for example, mostly comes from Memoirs of a Geisha – and even there, the movie, as I didn’t, for whatever reason, finish the book. I had never thought about how they interact with clients and family.

And the novel is beautiful in so many ways. I found the translation a bit lacking in places, but I got a vivid picture of the mountain town, and I generally liked all of the characters. I wish I knew more about Japanese culture because Shimamura’s leaving his family to spend time with a geisha didn’t seem like it was a big deal, and, well, it would be for me. Anyway, the book is fascinating, if a little short. It’s probably one of the relatively few that I’ll read again every few years.

I read through this book so quickly that I didn’t have time for much else. I made one of my very favorite (and freezable!) soups in the crock pot. I make things with beans when Palmer is out of town because he doesn’t like them.


I stayed home from work yesterday because something is going on with my sinuses, so my head hurts and my blood sugar is wonky. I read and updated this blog while the cats chillaxed. I’m pretty sure they had a better day than I did.


Speaking of updating the blog, what do you think of my new theme? It’s called Divi, by Elegant Themes, and I think it’s pretty neat.

Up next is Bleak House, which has been languishing on my tl;dr list for several years now. 70-ish pages in, and I’m hooked. It’s really funny!

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Indices, etc, coming soon!