|Book #2 of 2007
||[Jan. 19th, 2007|10:07 pm]
Amanda's Book Blog
I just finished Naomi, by Junichiro Tanizaki. A friend got me back into my Japanese obsession, and I picked up I am a Cat awhile ago; never got around to reading it. I read fabulous reviews of Naomi, however, and it seemed to have the deeply psychological feel to it – dark and forbidding, exactly what I was looking for. I keep comparing it to a Japanese Lolita.
The story is about a man named Joji, obsessed with all things Western in 1920’s Japan. He finds a Eurasian-looking girl named Naomi (aha! A name both Western AND Japanese!) working in a café. Between her Western looks and name, her childish innocence, and her beauty, he becomes truly captivated. A man twice her age and with a decent amount of money, he takes her in and educates her in Western ways, tolerating her occasional cruelty and selfishness. As things get deeper and deeper (including a secret marriage) he learns to tolerate the extravagances and infidelities of a cold-hearted and cold-eyed woman (no longer a childish teen) due to his increasing sexual obsession with her.
This book was a fantastic study in obsessive love. Deeply psychological, you feel for Joji at the same time you want to slap him and tell him to send his whore packing. Like The Prestige, you can almost see the train wreck at the end of the book coming – Joji discovering the infidelity the audience knows is there, and holding their breath to see if he will stand strong or fall under. For her part, Naomi’s manipulations are absolutely fantastic. Comic book authors cannot pen better villains. You truly, truly see the power that beautiful women can wield in this book.
The book was excellent – I blew through it in two days. Even with that, though, I give the book four and a half stars. I know the spinelessness of Joji was part of the plot, but it still bothered me. A little too much.