The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe

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Synopsis

The Woman in the Dunes, by celebrated writer and thinker Kobo Abe, combines the essence of myth, suspense and the existential novel.
 
After missing the last bus home following a day trip to the seashore, an amateur entomologist is offered lodging for the night at the bottom of a vast sand pit. But when he attempts to leave the next morning, he quickly discovers that the locals have other plans. Held captive with seemingly no chance of escape, he is tasked with shoveling back the ever-advancing sand dunes that threaten to destroy the village. His only companion is an odd young woman. Together their fates become intertwined as they work side by side at this Sisyphean task.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

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 December 14, 2011 by Vintage. 258 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Woman in the Dunes

Kirkus Reviews

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Whatever interpretation beyond its seemingly excellent translation from the Japanese may be needed, this sepulchral tale follows the faint footprints of a dedicated antomologist who reaches the dunes to be pinioned there just as surely as the beetles he collects.

Sep 12 2011 | Read Full Review of The Woman in the Dunes

The Guardian

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Kobo Abe's novel The Woman in the Dunes appeared in 1962, to spontaneous acclaim, was translated into 20 languages and adapted for a Cannes festival award-winning film directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara and scored by Toru Takemitsu.

Oct 07 2006 | Read Full Review of The Woman in the Dunes

BC Books

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The Woman in the Dunes is a flat out great novel. Abe has certainly carved his niche along side the likes of Kafka and Beckett with this one.

Feb 08 2010 | Read Full Review of The Woman in the Dunes

BC Books

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Feb 08 2010 | Read Full Review of The Woman in the Dunes

BC Books

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There are a number of times the man plans his escape, thinking of ways in which he can outsmart those around him — from pretending to be sick, to tying the woman up, to eventually creating his own rope and pulling himself out of the dune, only to then be brought back by the villagers after having...

Feb 08 2010 | Read Full Review of The Woman in the Dunes

BC Books

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The story involves a man (Niki Jumpei) who wanders into the desert in search of insects — he is an amateur etymologist, and so he stumbles upon a group of men who offer him a night stay in a woman’s house who happens to be located at the bottom of a giant sand dune.

Feb 08 2010 | Read Full Review of The Woman in the Dunes

Suite 101

A love story set in the Punjab in the early 1800s, but with some very modern themes regarding identity, religious understanding and personal loyalties.

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Vivid Scribe

The Woman in the Dunes (Suna no onna – “Sand Woman”) is a novel by celebrated Japanese author, Kōbō Abe.

Oct 05 2012 | Read Full Review of The Woman in the Dunes

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