A Personal Matter - Kenzaburo Oe & John Nathan
From the Nobel Prize–winning author: “One of the great short novels of the 20th century” (Jonathan Franzen, The Wall Street Journal).
Internationally acclaimed as one of the world’s most influential writers, Kenzaburō Ōe brings to the fore the post-WWII rage and anxiety of a decorous society in this “deathly black comedy . . . dripping with nuclear terror” (The Japan Times).
Bird is an antisocial twenty-seven-year-old intellectual hanging on to a failing marriage with whiskey. He dreams of going to Africa where the sky sprawls with possibilities. Then, as though walloped by a massive invisible fist, Bird’s Utopian fantasies are shattered when his wife gives birth to what he calls their “monster baby.” Now, Bird is left with one question: How can he and his wife spend the rest of their lives with this damaged thing clinging to their backs? As shameful, disgraceful, and unthinkable a desire as it is, Bird has an answer. Not sealed. Not just yet. Not before Bird flees on a bender of indiscriminate (and frustratingly impotent) sex, hard liquor, self-delusion, and most terrifying of all—self-discovery.
“[I’d] forgotten just how crazy it is . . . It feels so much like life to me . . . it tells me that Ōe is onto something correct. People don’t want to deal with reality.” —Jonathan Franzen, The Wall Street Journal
“Very close to a perfect contemporary novel.” —The New York Times
“An astonishing novel.” —Mother Jones