Bookworm Wednesday: Japanese Kafka Kobo Abe

Who? Kobo Abe

What? Surrealistic, existential novels with a bizarre plot

Recommended Read? I only read The Box Man

I went to Ireland earlier this year, to just refind some energy I had been gradually losing since I started working. Not that I don’t like my job, but there are certain elements that tend to disconnect me from the person I am. I’ll not go further into detail. Anyway, before that trip, my reading rhythm had really shrunk to shameful proportions, because i always claim literature to be closer to life than life itself. Not to read is not to live (at least that’s how it is concerning me…i just thrive on literature, and get my energy from it)

So, I was in Ireland and brought 4 or 5 books, which I all read in 10 days (even though I wasn’t alone there, but every free moment was spent on reading), and eventually I even bought an extra book in some local book shop, because I was out of material. One of the novels that reminded me of why I think literature is a necessity in a mostly image-driven culture, was the Box man by Kobo Abe.

Franktly, it took me a lot of time before I figured out what the book was about. The main character is a nameless man who decides to give up his identity and walk around with a cardboard box over his head. Meanwhile, he writes all his thoughts on the inside walls of this box. But reality in this book seems to have quite a stretchable definition. There also seems to be another man, a doctor, wanting to wear a cardboard box over his head, and a rifleman who is determined to shoot all those so called Box men. Then again, it’s never really sure who’s who in the story, and wether those three characters aren’t all the same.

The mixed-up reality are accompanied by some philosophical pounderings about life itself, loneliness and the meaning of identity. Only after a few months, I’ve got the feeling I have to reread it sometime, and be bedazzled by it again….

Lovely bizarre, and amazingly intense. You can find it on Amazon

P.S.: It surely can be my memory lets me down when I’m writing about books I’ve enjoyed. So, if you read this book (or the other books i’ll be promoting in the future) and think “this is nonsense”, just give a comment. I don’t pretend to be a literary critic.

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