Fiction. Karen Tei Yamashita's eagerly anticipated second novel tells the little-known story of Brazil's huge Japanese immigrant population. This multi-generational saga relates one group's attempt to build a utopia while surviving the suspicions of World War Two, the conflict between individual freedom and community responsibility, and the dangerous allure of a charismatiFiction. Karen Tei Yamashita's eagerly anticipated second novel tells the little-known story of Brazil's huge Japanese immigrant population. This multi-generational saga relates one group's attempt to build a utopia while surviving the suspicions of World War Two, the conflict between individual freedom and community responsibility, and the dangerous allure of a charismatic leader....
|Number of Pages||:||248 Pages|
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Brazil Maru Reviews
I've been having a lot of thoughts about social novels, the artificial demarcations of advertised "modern classic" in relation to works that have actually withstood the test of time, the determinations of which corresponding works should be granted to which youth, and how all that, incremental by increment, has made people in the US believe that they are untouched by any form of socialism. Public schools, public libraries, public bathrooms, nonprofits ranging from the actual to the implied (hospitals) to the jokes (the NFL): now make the admissions to all of credible ones a set price à la theme parks rather than life sustaining institutions and see what you get. Not a very friendly picture, is it. And yet the mainstream conclusion is that, since we don't know what comes after capitalism in the vein of how capitalism succeeded feudalism, we shouldn't bother with the transitions, as if fools running headlong into the latest capitalistic scheme (take Bitcoin as merely one small recent example) hadn't compromised millions of others with their faith in the most insidious cult since the rule of those who viewed themselves as the embodiment of their god(s) on earth. Yamashita's work is nearly as old as I am, but as that is far younger than meditations on capitalistic social systems that have been deemed acceptable without relying on sensationalized dystopian forms such as, say, 'Elmer Gantry' (typing this out I realized that Wizard of the Crow also fits the bill, but that wonderful work deserves its own review, so I'll leave my critique compromise), I take it as the 'modern' in the 'modern classic' ads keep spouting forth these days. It's certainly earned it more than whatever keeps flashing across my dash these days.If the description for this work had contained a variation on the theme of "three generations in a country not the US do a thing and blah de blah de blah", I probably wouldn't read it. The works of those beyond the demographical pale are plagued with such simplifications, and it doesn't help me determine whether there will be characters I care about, or a testing of theories of politics and other social spectrums, or a touching upon of a history that had either not been spoken of in mainstream venues or had been claimed by a white author for the sake of money, not inheritance. Fortunately, "multi-generational saga" wasn't enough to scare me off of the great Yamashita, and while this isn't a favorite like I Hotel, I always find it thrilling to read about people coming together to circumvent the cold individualistic hellscape of capitalism, even if it doesn't work out because of said cold individualistic hellscape of capitalism. If Gatsby had survived and ran off to Brazil to escape his creditors and either got suckered into by or suckered Kantaro into some moneymaking scheme, here's the fallout. Less heartbreaking and masculinity-reinforcing than the the canonical end, perhaps, but no one lives forever, not even the most successful parasites that the bootstrap mentality working in tandem with the free market are capable of breeding. Add in the history of Japanese immigration as determined by white Brazilian's greed and white US' hate (there are far more Japanese Brazilians than there are Japanese Americans), and you have a necessary story in the making.I could've used more individual narratives of the women, but as I understand the necessity of including the characters Yamashita did, this would've made for a much longer book, and I don't think the collective House of Usher narrative needed more space than it did. It's also nice to be rewarded for picking up a book by a woman of color simply on the strength of past readings, and this work, one of Yamashita's less popular ones, was so good that I'll be picking up more, poor ratings be damned. The negative reputation is more likely than not the result of readers being trained to adore the sort of character that this novel reviles, the work choosing instead to lift up the collective as the hero of the story. The fact the hero fails at the end doesn't invalidate their story, much as the end of 'Beowulf' doesn't compromise the titular character's triumphant fate, whatever the propaganda of contemporary times may feed you.The bank is not in the business of great human experiments.
Amazing and readable.
This book had an interesting premise - a multi-generational story of Japanese immigrants as they settle and colonize Brazil. It follows one family led by a their leader Kantaro - a flawed character who attempts to build a society according to his ideals in what was then virgin forest. The portions that described the initial society-building in the jungle were very interesting and I think probably accurate. Anyone who has ever seen the the red mud houses in Brazil will appreciate this part of the book.The biggest flaw of this book is that it followed too many characters which made the whole thing confusing at times. Maybe it would have been better to read it in one sitting.
Like with Tropic of Orange, Yamashita again plays with form to tell a multi-charactered story. I really liked the setting, but found some characters too stereotypical.
A Great!My former teacher!
It's been ages since I read it. 1995 in fact, but I read it right before I visited Brazil and remember enjoying it.