Book 128: A Personal Matter by Kenzaburō Ōe


A Personal Matter by Kenzaburō Ōe

Finished reading on April 5th, 2014

Rating: 8/10

A Personal matter is the story of a few days in the life of a twenty-seven year old man nick-named Bird, who in the beginning of the novel becomes a father. However trouble ensues, as there’s something wrong with the baby, and the doctors suspect him to have brain hernia. Bird sees the child as a monster, who will forever take away Bird’s lifelong dream of going to Africa. Bird is stressed out, and has a history of drinking problems, and he can’t really figure out what to do and how to cope with his situation, so he contacts one of his friends Himiko, and spends a lot of time with her.

The plot is quite horrifying, nothing is hidden from the reader – not Bird’s ideas about ending the child’s life, nor his sexual adventures.

This short novel keeps the reader stuck to the book, until you find out, what is going to happen – will the baby live or not, will Bird escape to Africa with Himiko, what will happen to Bird’s wife, etc.

I liked how the book ended with a twist, it certainly wasn’t something that I would have expected.

This book is another one that has strengthened my prejudice about Nobel prize winners, as they tackle very serious and difficult topics, that are mostly unexpected.



4 thoughts on “Book 128: A Personal Matter by Kenzaburō Ōe

    • I think that’s always a problem with anything read in translation though: there’s the feeling that something has been missed, as you’re reliant on an intermediary’s choice of interpretation, which makes all the difference.

  1. I’ve never heard of this book or author, but it sounds very interesting. I’ll have to check it out. Nice review:)

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