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First Snow on Fuji Paperback – 12 Oct 2000

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About the Author

Yasunari Kawabata, winner of the 1968 Novel Prize for Literature, was one of Japan's most distinguished novelists. Born in Osaka in 1899, he published his first stories while he was still in high school. He graduated from Tokyo Imperial University in 1924. His story "The Izu Dancer," first published in 1925, appeared in The Atlantic Monthly in 1955. Among his major novels published in the United States are Snow Country (1956), The Master of Go (1972), and Beauty and Sadness (1975). Kawabata was found dead, by his own hand, in 1972.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x8f93c72c) out of 5 stars 10 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8fdef924) out of 5 stars A master at expressing the limitations of language 22 Sept. 2012
By C. Collins - Published on
Format: Paperback
Kawabata is a master storyteller. His descriptions of nature are precise and moving. He is able to create a world in each story that is easily visualized by the reader, though he uses minimal description, just enough to evoke the image. However, it is the manner in which we human beings misunderstand and miscommunicate with our fellows that is the theme for many of his stories. Human language runs up against the barrier of multiple meanings and hidden meanings and thus is far from a perfect transmitter of truth or reality. Kawabata plays with this limitation of the spoken and written word in most all of his stories. For Kawabata, this is probably most evident in the communication between men and women. In "This Country, That Country" a young woman is scandalized by a news article about two married couples who swap partners and re-marry together. Yet, a subtle version of this story happens to she and her husband and their next door neighbors. In "A Row of Trees", Kawabata's skills are fully demonstrated as a couple discusses the dropping of autumn leaves while thinking parallel narratives that are subtly reflected in their casual comments regarding the trees. His story "Nature" seemed like an actual life incident whereby Kawabata meets a beautiful actor who draft dodged in World War II acting as a female. "Silence" is about a visit by one famous author to another famous author after the second author has had a stroke depriving him of speech and the ability to write. "Her Husband Didn't" is an excellent example of the story of miscommunication as a young male art student around 21 years old has an affair with a woman of around 39. Here people connect sexually but each party has completely different expectations and meaning for the encounter. The book ends with a short history play that is both tragic and minimal. Like his novels and his very short stories, palm of the hand stories, these longer short stories are exceptional and give evidence of why Kawabata was Japan's first Nobel Prize Winner for Literature.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8fdef978) out of 5 stars Beautiful 11 Nov. 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This volume should be in every library. Elegant and subtle language weave each tale that are delicately, and often painfully, human. The conclusions, abrupt and ambiguous, are haunting and thought provoking. This is a collection of stories that moves you and speaks to you long after you've finished.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8fdefb4c) out of 5 stars Elegant and Simple 23 May 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book, without a doubt, was the most elegant I have ever read. The langage is so beautiful that one reads it the same way one might poetry. Though the language alone could have made the book worthwhile, the stories are also haunting, like a painting that slowly reveals its secrets and hidden meanings. My favorite was the first story, "This Country That Country," but all of them are extraordinary.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8fdf109c) out of 5 stars It's like each story is a new favorite ~ 30 Jan. 2013
By Christopher Barrett - Published on
Format: Paperback
This collection was published in 1959, nearly a decade before Kawabata would be the first Japanese to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. I would not necessarily call these 'short stories' but would probably call them novellas. I only say this because many Japanese short stories are 2 - 8 pages and are very concise and quick to read. These are more poetic and allow the reader time to adjust to the characters and settings. They are not as quickly gripping as a short story from, say, Murakami, but they have a depth to them that reminds me of Mishima and a few others. They average about 20 pages, some as long as 50, others around 10.

Some of the stories seem better than others, but they all kind of stand out. I really enjoyed 'Nature', it was simply marvelous. 'This Country, That Country' was another standout as was 'Chrysanthemum in the Rock'. Oh and knowing what a 'stupa' is really helps - it's a Buddhist burial 'heap' as it is literally translated, but often more of a mound like structure containing the ashes (and often other relics) of the deceased.

I've often had trouble really getting into his novels, though in the end I've felt rewarded, but Kawabata's short stories are magical. This is an amazing collection. And also check into his true short story collection: Palm-of-the-Hand Stories. The stories in this collection range from 1 to 4 pages and are amazing. Truly I feel Kawabata's strength was in the short story.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8fdf11bc) out of 5 stars Concentrated Novels, Just Add Water 24 Mar. 2006
By Crazy Fox - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a fine collection of short stories by Kawabata. These are longer than his "Palm of the Hand" stories but still display to the full his incredible talent to suggest a whole large-scale novel with the barest minimum of words and phrases. The deep suggestiveness and resonance typical of Kawabata is present in these brief works, though somewhat more flat-footed than elsewhere--one wonders if this is an effect of translation or whether Kawabata was a just a wee bit off his game here.

This collection also includes a rarity, a drama by Kawabata, which comes across as incredibly flat, wooden, and dull. It seems that drama was not a medium suited to him, although perhaps the play works well when actually performed--many a Kabuki play looks lame on paper but comes alive on the stage. But as it stands it seems an awkward ending to an otherwise fine collection of stories. This is not Kawabata at his best, but quite good still.
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