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The Diving Pool
September 15, 2008 1:05 PM   Subscribe

"A dreamlike state tinged with a nightmare" - that's The Diving Pool, a newly published collection of three novellas by Yoko Ogawa. Despite having won every major literary award in Japan, Ogawa is little known to the English speaking world (the French have translated her extensively), although two stories - Pregnancy Diary (one of the novellas in The Diving Pool) and The Cafeteria in the Evening and A Pool In the Rain - have graced the pages of The New Yorker. Here's a preview at Google Books. If you liked that, consider pre-ordering The Housekeeper and the Professor, her latest novel to be translated into English.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing (15 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm digging the NY'er story. Thanks for turning me on to her Marisa.
posted by vronsky at 1:52 PM on September 15, 2008


I can't wait for the bad American remakes of the Japanese movies!
posted by Artw at 1:59 PM on September 15, 2008


GOJIRA!!

Seriously though, I've only read a few paragrabs and I already like. Thanks Marisa STPT.
posted by Mister_A at 2:11 PM on September 15, 2008


I like the cafeteria story. It doesn't go anywhere but it's still very nice and calming somehow. It reminds me of the beginning of a Raymond Carver story, when the spell of the domestic idyll hasn't been shattered yet.
posted by nasreddin at 2:31 PM on September 15, 2008


These make me want to write again. Thanks.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:51 PM on September 15, 2008


Fascinating. Thanks so much! Has anyone on here read her in Japanese? I'd be interested to hear how well you feel the translations work.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:37 PM on September 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I found another book of hers that's been translated into English, but that doesn't look like it's available: The Gift of Numbers. does anyone know anything about this one?
posted by object-a at 4:03 PM on September 15, 2008


The Gift of Numbers is the earlier title for The Housekeeper and the Professor--they're not two separate books.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:20 PM on September 15, 2008


I am into it. Thanks!
posted by Iridic at 4:21 PM on September 15, 2008


I found another book of hers that's been translated into English, but that doesn't look like it's available: The Gift of Numbers. does anyone know anything about this one?

博士の愛した数式 (Hakase no aishi ta sūshiki) was published in Japan in 2003/2004, and was slated to be published as The Gift of Numbers in 2006, but that deal apparently fell through. It is now to be published next year as The Housekeeper and the Professor. The literal translation of the Japanese title is, it seems, The Mathematical Formula Loved by a Professor.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:35 PM on September 15, 2008


My library has a lot of these . . . in French and Japanese. ={ But there is a copy of the Diving Pool. Yoink!
posted by grobstein at 6:57 PM on September 15, 2008


Not to be a hater---but in Japanese, she reads pretty bad.
posted by odasaku at 7:05 PM on September 15, 2008


Informed hating is to be cherished. What's the matter with her? (And if so, what's up with all the prizes? Is she being recognized mostly for achievements other than her use of language?)
posted by grobstein at 7:31 PM on September 15, 2008


I've read many of her books in Japanese. I like Hakase no Aishita Suushiki the most. If you're going to read just one of her works, I'd recommend that one. I've mentioned this before in AskMe but I also think the film (second link is the official site in Japanese) that was based on this novel is very well made, too. I don't think she reads bad, but to each his own, I guess. I'm very happy to hear her works are being translated.
posted by misozaki at 1:38 AM on September 16, 2008


I have read Hakase no aishita sūshiki in the original too. I thought it was OK. Personally, I prefer a more lively, confrontational, savage style (and I suspect the same may be true of odasaku, given that their profile says that the are a scholar of the buraiha), but I have to admit that Ogawa held down her quiet, intense thing well.

One thing about that book in particular is that if you already know a lot about the fun yet accessible corners of mathematics -- primes, Euler's identity, etc. -- you probably won't find it as rewarding and memorable as you would have otherwise.

Haven't read any of the translations, but Hakase is certainly a prime candidate for the Englishification process: not particularly experimental or complex syntactically, not self-consciously literary.
posted by No-sword at 3:01 AM on September 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


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