Review: The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima

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Title: The Sound of Waves (Shiosai)

Author: Yukio Mishima

Translator: Meredith Weatherby

Pages: 183 p

ISBN: 978-480-5-306-369

Publisher: Tuttle Publishing, 2001

Shinji, an eighteen y.o. boy, lives in Uta-jima (The Song Island), an island which the inhabitants are only 1400. Same as others, Shinji had became a fisherman after school graduation. One day, after a busy work from the sea, Shinji saw a beautiful girl he never met, her name is Hatsue.

As if born under a lucky star, Hatsue accepted Shinji’s pure love. When their story were just about to begin, Chiyoko, another girl who was studying in Tokyo and just got back to her hometown for vacation, showed both of them walking hand in hand. Chiyoko always had an eye for Shinji. So, she asked Yatsuo for help to spread the rumors about Hatsue and Shinji, that both of them already had sex. Such a worst rumour in the village, Shinji and Hatsue then couldn’t meet each other.

Yatsuo, the son of a leading family in the village was indeed Shinji’s rival ever since Hatsue’s arrival by saying he would be Hatsue’s husband. One day, Shinji was asked to work in a bigger ship owned by Hatsue’s father. Although he was confused with this circumstance, he took a job and sailed to another island. Yatsuo was one of the crew. This could be a chance to prove himself that he is the rightest man for Hatsue…

But perhaps it could be not?

I was ready for an absurd story but it turned out that this is a classic love story, or in Indonesian you can say “Roman Picisan”. I was like “Eeeaaa what is it I am reading now?” every time Hatsue and Shinji do flirting towards each other. The story basically just about love at the first sight, with the common obstacles and common solution. I am a fan of a bittersweet ending *laugh* so I was a bit disappointed with this book’s ending. No spoiler, it might be sweet, it might be bitter :p This book was first published in 1956 which I consider classic, so the living way of the characters were also different with current situation now.

Now that they were dressed, they could kiss in comfort… (Page 78)

Anyhow, I like this book. The pace is not slow which is good because I was quite not patient enough to know the development of the stories and to reveal the ending. The strength of this book are the beautiful words written, the simple and humble life of the people, and also the details.

Hatsue got to ger feet in silence and went around the rock to receive the prize. And the prize she returned with was the brown, middle-aged handbag, which she pressed into the hands of Shinji’s mother. The mother’s cheeks flushed red with delight.

“But…why?…”

“Because I’ve always wanted to apologize ever since my father spoke so rudely to Auntie that day.” (Page 146)

Yasuo quickly mounted the sloping street to the right, his sneakers making not so much as a footfall. He passed through the playground of the elementary school, enclosed in rows of cherry trees, their blossoms half-open. This playground was a recent addition to the school, and the cherry trees had been transplanted from the mountains. One of the young trees had been blown over by the storm; its trunk showed dead-black against a moonlit sand pile. (Page 88)

So far Japanese-English translation never be a problem for me. Some chosen words are indeed unfamiliar, I need to read slowly in some paragraphs, for example when Shinji was fighting alone at the sea, in a stormy night. Another nice point for Japanese-English translation is, I like how the translator made some Japanese words easy to understand.

The boy entered and, by the faint light of the windows, soon found his mother’s mark – red rags tied to several bundles, the name “Tomi Kubo” written on them in childish characters (Page 28)

I believe original word for this “childish characters” is “hiragana”. But if it was just written “hiragana”, some people probably wouldn’t understand.

Three of five, I recommend this book for you who are looking for another “taste” of love story.

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