The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe

Woman_in_the_DunesOkay I forgot that I’ve read this book too, somewhere between Atonement and Harry Potter. I was quite struggling to continue at several points of the book. It started strong, then it went downhill, got more boring and more boring, picked up a bit, then all flat again. I mean I really wanted to like this book, really. But I just didn’t. I blamed the translation. Or the all symbolic things I couldn’t help feeling that I missed their true meanings or intentions. After all this is quite an old book, written post-war. There’s probably some historic things that I don’t have the knowledge about to truly appreciate this piece of literature.

I also didn’t like the inner thoughts of the main character. He’s a pretty boring guy. And when he started talking about psychological veneral disease, I thought I totally lost him. I kind of like the ending though, when some of my friends don’t. (spoiler ahead, highlight to see) The way I see it, he was suffering before because he felt that he was forced to stay. But now he has the option to leave. Now he feels like he chooses to stay. So he stays. Because there’s little reason for him to go out of his comfort zone. He’s been staying there for years. Most people don’t like changes. They like regular life with routines. I guess that’s what the digging of sand symbolizes. Most people just do whatever they need to do, day by day, without knowing exactly why. Without questioning if there’s another way. It’s just one way of life. It’s almost too troublesome to change a maintained way of life and find your own.

Right after the book, I went to look for the movie. It was made into a black and white movie in 1965, and nominated for Best foreign language film at Academy Awards. I actually liked the movie. It was much less boring, and quite pretty even, with all the shots of the sand and its movement.

Notice that the woman is never named throughout the entire book/film. I wonder what this signifies?

Ratings: 2.5 out of 5
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Barely adequate for being a good book. Starts strong, all goes downhill after a couple of chapters. Okay ending. There could’ve been some incomprehensible symbolic things.

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