Too bad I couldn’t finish the book.
There are 4 stories in the book, The Catch by Kenzaburõ Õe, Sakurajima by Haruo Umezaki, Summer Flower by Tamiki Hara and Bones by Fumiko Hayashi.
The Catch was a great story but when I get to Sakurajima, I couldn’t keep myself awake hence I stopped reading it and took another book to read. I make this review because The Catch really impressed me. Sakurajima left me with boredom as the character was really not fun at all, just a boring middle-aged soldier trying to cope with what about to happen to his life as he entered the service. I am not saying it’s a bad story, it just didn’t appeal me…sorry.
Now, let’s move on to the first story in the book, The Catch by Kenzaburõ Õe. The Catch has unusual way of sharing the life in war.
A village far from the city where people were still helping each other to fulfill their life suddenly had an unexpected visitor. They saw the enemy plan crashed down near their village. The children who were the main focus of the story were wondering about the enemy plan. Soon afterward, their parents went to hunt the plan down. The children were waiting impatiently. To their delight, their parents brought a wounded big black man…they had never seen a black man before.
The children kept peaking through the cellar where they kept the black man. They didn’t see him as a human being, they thought he was a kind of animal. It was understandable as those kids never saw a black man before.
The negro was as gentle as a tame animal – by now the idea had seeped into the minds of all the villagers, children and adults alike
And we found that we were bound to him by a deep, fierce, almost “human” bond.
The boy, the main character in this story, was given full charge to feed the black man till the town came and took him away. The town was also waiting for the prefecture government to make a decision. While waiting for the decision to be taken upon the black man, the children and adults learned that the black man was a gentle soul. They grew closer to him, he was a part of the village despite the fact he didn’t understand their language. The children adored him.
…but, the decision finally came. Both the boy and the black man had to decide what they must to reach to such decision.
The Catch was really good, I enjoy every page of it. The way the relationship between the black man and the children, especially the boy, slowly built up is very fun to follow. It might feel a bit odd to think of another human being as a kind of animal, but it was at a time where TV and Newspaper wasn’t as easy to come around as now. For people who had never seen either white man or black man, they might think they weren’t human as they were so different to the little Japanese people. But through the difference, they made an unspoken friendship.
Kenzaburõ Õe won Akutagawa Prize for this story. I am looking forward to read more stories by him.
I haven’t taken a peak on the rest of the short stories although I have to return it to the library soon. Maybe one day I borrow it again to read the other two stories apart from The Catch and the boring Sakurajima.
Title: The Catch from The Catch and Other war Stories
Author: Kenzaburõ Õe
Language: English (original: Japanese)
Pages: 61 pages (the book: 160 pages)