3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 28 May 1999
Oe Kenzaburop is a genius. I gave a copy of this book to two people-once three or four years ago to my high school English teacher, and once again this year to a fellow college student at Binghamton University.
The first person liked Seventeen better. He thought the masturbation scene in Seventeen was masterful. I thought so too. The scene is supposedly the first masturbation scene in a Japanese novel, and it was enthrallingly detailed. Seventeen was a good depiction of a boy coming of age, and his confused entry into the world of Japanese politics. The second person to whom I gave the book, loved the part in which the protogonist of Seventeen kicks his sister in the face, breaking her glasses.
As the first person to whom I gave the book liked Seventeen better than J, the second person to whom I gave the book liked J better than Seventeen. I too liked J better. J was a more vivid depiction of Japan and its contemporary personage's. J is written in two parts. The first part of the book takes place in the country, it presents J as a person confused about sex and his own sexuality, and at some point he even comes across as homosexual. The second part shows him in the city. He no longer contents himself with the answers life grants him, he decides to go out into the world and chance finding the sexual answers he desires by taking action. He becomes a "chikan," a sexual predator, who rides trains looking for his next victim (he exposes his naked parts to innocent train passengers, usually young school girls heading to school or returning home). Riding the trains he meets two persons with whom he will develop a great bond. This novel introduces some of the most memorable characters in fiction. In the world of Japanese literature Oe Kenzaburo ranks with Saikaku Ihara, Yasunari Kawabata, and Mishima Yukio.
J is about sex, it is about the pain of being a sadist-the suffering a sadist has to go through because he is miss understood. Reading this book, and seeing the unfairness in it, is enough to make a person question the way we view people, and society for that matter.
This book is essential for anyone who's interested in sex, or is just a straight out pervert. The first person to whom I gave the book was an erudite, whom I felt needed to read the book to be further learnt in literature. The second person was one who wanted me to suggest some books for him to read, for he wanted to be well-read. I felt this book was essential for such a goal.