The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe
(Penguin Classics)

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Dazzlingly original, Kobo Abe's "The Woman in the Dunes" is one of the premier Japanese novels in the twentieth century, and this "Penguin Classics" edition contains a new introduction by David Mitchell, author of "Cloud Atlas". Niki Jumpei, an amateur entomologist, searches the scorching desert for beetles. As night falls he is forced to seek shelter in an eerie village, half-buried by huge sand dunes. He awakes to the terrifying realization that the villagers have imprisoned him with a young woman at the bottom of a vast sand pit. Tricked into slavery and threatened with starvation if he does not work, Jumpei's only chance is to shovel the ever-encroaching sand - or face an agonising death. Among the greatest Japanese novels of the twentieth century, "The Woman in the Dunes" combines the essence of myth, suspense, and the existential novel. Kobo Abe (1924-93) was born in Tokyo, grew up in Manchuria, and returned to Japan in his early twenties. During his life Abe was considered his country's foremost living novelist. His novels have earned many literary awards and prizes, and have all been bestsellers in Japan. They include "The Woman in the Dunes", "The Ark Sakura", "The Face of Another", "The Box Man", and "The Ruined Map". If you liked "The Woman in the Dunes", you might enjoy Albert Camus' "The Plague", also available in "Penguin Classics". "A haunting Kafkaesque nightmare". ("Time").

About Kobo Abe

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Kobo Abe is the pseudonym of Kimifusa Abe, who was born in Tokyo, Japan on March 7 1924. He was brought up in Manchuria where he lived with his father, a doctor of the hosipital attached to the Imperial Medical Colledge of Manchuria. In elementary school, he was educated in the experimental way, in which a teacher trained children to debating and rapid reading. Abe went back to Tokyo and went to Sejo Koko High School, a famous private school. He was later admitted to the faculty of medicine of Tokyo University. In 1944, Abe heard that Japan would lose the war before long and he forged a medical certificate to get home to Manchuria. He earned his medical degree in 1948, but never practiced. After graduation he began his writing career and became a member of a literary group led by Kiyoteru Hamada. Often compared to Kafka , he treated the contemporary human predicament in a realistic yet symbolic style. In 1951 he got the Akutagawa Award by his first masterpiece, Kabe (The Walls). Among Abe's novels are Woman in the Dunes, published in 1962 and made into a film in 1964, and his best-known work, Secret Rendezvous. His plays include Friends, published in 1967. The first of his short stories to appear in English were collected in Beyond the Curve, 1944-66. Abe died in 1993.
Published October 12, 1972 by Sphere. 176 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction