Thursday 3 March 2022

Book Review: The Setting Sun by Dazai Osamu (Modern Classic)

Title: The Setting Sun
Author: Dazai Osamu
Publisher: New Directions
Publication Date: 1968 (1947)
Pages: 175
Genre: Modern Classic
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This powerful novel of a nation in social and moral crisis was first published by New Directions in 1956. Set in the early postwar years, it probes the destructive effects of war and the transition from a feudal Japan to an industrial society. Ozamu Dazai died, a suicide, in 1948. But the influence of his book has made “people of the setting sun” a permanent part of the Japanese language, and his heroine, Kazuko, a young aristocrat who deliberately abandons her class, a symbol of the anomie which pervades so much of the modern world.…


The Setting Sun is another excellent work by Dazai which looks at ideas of family, changing class and values, and existential crisis. Both Kazuko and Naoji are compelling narratives, and I tore through this book in two short sessions. Dazai's prose is always sleek and concise, yet still manages to convey enough description to imagine the scene and the characters. If you want to appreciate Japanese literature of the 20th century, including a book or two by Dazai is a must. This one gets 5 stars from me.

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