Manazuru is the sort of book that is almost impossible to describe. It's a story about memory, or something like it, written in a shockingly spare and compact style that encourages the reader to delve between the lines. In some places there seems to be a lack of resolution, a sense that something important is missing from the text, but of course, that is precisely the point. Kawakami has an exceptional knack for mixing the real and the unreal together, and part of the beauty of her method is that is resists interpretation as much as it encourages it. What the reader is left with, instead, are sensations, exquisite turns of phrase delivered in a uniquely ethereal tone. All in all it is utterly beautiful, in precisely the sort of frustrating way that makes the book impossible to forget.
All that said, this isn't a five-star book for everyone. Writers will love it for what it teaches- the same tone and composition can hardly be found anywhere else. Japanese speakers who have read the original might find the translation interesting as well- Michael Emmerich has done a stupendous job rendering into English a novel which seems, from the outside, almost impossible to translate. Perpetual seekers of the strange and lovers of perception will be similarly satisfied. A reader unwilling to reach beyond the bounds of a conventional narrative, though, will likely want to walk away, regardless of the novel's technical prowess. Manazuru is just that sort of story: beautiful and possibly just a bit too strange for comfort.