Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight by Riku Onda (Japanese Literature Challenge 16)

I must admit to feeling equivocated about this book. I loved the cover, as if that matters, and the concept of two people struggling over the course of one night to discover why their guide died during a mountain trek they had taken. They each suspect the other of murder, as neither was in the other’s line of sight when he fell to his death.

But, it took me almost a week to read 204 pages because I just couldn’t engage with it.

Actually, the story ended up being more about these two, Aki and Hiro, than about the death of their guide. We don’t even know how he died, exactly, other than Aki’s suppositions at the end. What we are embroiled in is the relationship between Aki and Hiro, their combined memories, and what they mean to each other.

It was a little confusing, at first, as they both speak in the first person, and I wondered who it was that was telling me their perspective. The chapters alternate between each voice, so after awhile it became clearer. But, as far as Japanese literature goes, and especially a book from Riku Onda, I felt it far from thrilling.

I am going on now to The Hole by Hiroko Oyamada, translated by David Boyd, which won the Akutagawa Prize.

6 thoughts on “Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight by Riku Onda (Japanese Literature Challenge 16)”

  1. I’m so glad when a reviewer gives an honest assessment of a book, positive and/or negative.

    Admittedly, when in a book store, quite often a book cover will catch my eye, even more so than the title. I want to hope that the prose and story inside are just as beautiful as the cover. Thank you for your review.

    Liked by 1 person

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