Tuesday 5 January 2021

Book Review: Thousand Cranes by Kawabata Yasunari (Modern Classics)

Title: Thousand Cranes
Author: Kawabata Yasunari
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Publication Date: 21 January 2011 (1952)
Pages: 101
Genre: Modern Classics
Source: Gift

Kikuji has been invited to a tea ceremony by a mistress of his dead father. He is shocked to find there the mistress's rival and successor, Mrs. Ota, and that the ceremony has been awkwardly arranged for him to meet his potential future bride. But he is most shocked to be drawn into a relationship with Mrs. Ota - a relationship that will bring only suffering and destruction to all of them. Thousand Cranes reflects the tea ceremony's poetic precision with understated, lyrical style and beautiful prose.


Thousand Cranes is a lyrical, atmospheric read that deals with themes of loss, guilt and shame. Kikuji was an interesting character and I felt we really got to know him through his interactions with the women from his father's past and his present. Through the medium of the tea ceremony, we saw the darker truths hidden behind the elegant displays, and the story held my interest from start to finish. At only 100 pages it was also a quick read that I finished within an hour and a half. This was my first time reading Kawabata and on the strength of this piece I am certainly keen to explore more of his works in the future. Recommended for fans of lyrical, thoughtful Japanese fiction.

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