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Palm-of-the-Hand Stories

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  1,829 Ratings  ·  146 Reviews
Recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1968, the novelist Yasunari Kawabata felt the essence of his art was to be found not in his longer works but in a series of short stories--which he called "Palm-of-the-Hand Stories"--written over the span of his career. In them we find loneliness, love, and the passage of time, demonstrating the range and complexity of a true m
Paperback, 288 pages
Published November 14th 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1963)
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a symmetrical simplicity denoting the depths of human complexity.

He understood that human beings cannot make other human beings unhappy. he murmurs, as I gaze up at the bewildered night sky.

the ephemeral life of time.
the beating of a hummingbird's wings.
a world contained in a vase filled with peonies.

death throes under the fading light of dusk.
fragments of a dream that never belonged to this place.
the atmospheric silence of an afternoon wrapped in autumnal colors.
a bowl being dashed against a ro
Feb 14, 2015 Praj rated it really liked it
Shelves: yk, にほん

“There are not many bell crickets in the world. Probably you will find a girls like a grasshopper whom you think is a bell cricket....... To your clouded, wounded heart, even a true bell cricket will seem like a grasshopper....”

The birds scurry over to the lake, noisily pecking the earliest fish of the season. A fresh flower bud opens to the flutter of the hummingbird. The white flower that bloomed last night desired to be pink. Pink was the colour that would erase its transparency. Pink was the
Apr 26, 2011 Mariel rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: polar
Recommended to Mariel by: solar
Shelves: my-love-life
Yasunari Kawabata's Palm-of-the-Hand Stories could be my key to my own heart. Palmists! Why didn't I think of that? They are short, like echoes inside that sound fainter as time passes, but are important enough to leave its footprint (handprint?) behind. Fucking haunting me kinda faint. "Oh." Much later: "Oh!" Yeah, he's got me. The eyes as windows to the souls thing that I like no matter how cliched it is (staring! you can't look away 'ship WRECKS), the Mona Lisa secret smiles, millions of tiny ...more
Feb 02, 2013 AC rated it really liked it
A very strange book. Two-thirds or more of these very tiny stories (like Haiku) were written between 1923 and 1935. Then 15 between 1944 and 1964, and one from 1972. We have heard of "occasional" writings; perhaps these need to be called "momentary" writings....

A collection of this sort will likely be, perhaps inevitably, uneven. Yet this collection certainly contain some, quite a few Kawabata masterpieces. I preferred the earlier stories, those from the early 20's, and some of the Postwar stori
Tiny stories that are more like poems.

I approached this book in the wrong way. I consumed as many of them in one go as I could and almost certainly shouldn't have. Kawabata crafts beautiful images that can have a profound effect on you but when you pile image upon image they lose all appeal and the effect is dulled. I knew this and yet I kept on reading until my brain couldn't hold any more imagery, kind of like an addiction I suppose.

This is the kind of work you can return to many times and pic
حسناً.. كنت أرغب بمنحها نجمتين على الأقل لبراعة تصوير ملامح البيئة اليابانية القديمة وكيف يجعل القارئ يرى ويستشعر أجواء هذه البيئة ويلمسها بطبيعتها وطقوسها حية وحقيقية..
لكن عندما يتصاعد احباطي من البداية للنهاية وأنا أقرأ قصة تلو قصة دون أن أجد أي معنى لأي منها!! باستثناء البعض كانت غالبية القصص أشبه بالهذيان حتى أنني عدة مرات نمت بسببها.. اضافةً إلى أن الكثير من تصرفات الأشخاص وردود أفعالهم غريبة وغير مفهومة.. هذا جعلني أقيمها بنجمة..
ليس غموض ولا رمزية.. بل ربما هناك حاسة سابعة يجب أن يمتلكها ا
Nov 06, 2011 Hadrian rated it really liked it
I'm not sure how to characterize this. I know I have this tagged 'short-stories', but it's something much different. Profound and thought-provoking little parables, which shift imperceptibly and subtly over the course of Kawabata's long illustrious life.
Sep 21, 2009 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Another annotation from my MFA/Creative Writing work at Goddard this semester:

Talismans Inside Koans Masquerading as Fairy Tales: Yasunari Kawabata’s Palm-of-the-Hand Stories

The toss of a silver coin determines whom a boy should marry, but a sparrow shows the boy that in his next life he will marry a sparrow. A vision is had, and something that might be considered a lesson or generalization about human existence is imparted—i.e., don’t worry about marrying the girl, because in your next life yo
Aug 27, 2013 Rosana rated it it was amazing
It feels very difficult to verbalize the experience of reading these short-stories. They at times border on the fantastical, but mostly describe some intricate psychological play, as if Kawabata has access to the deep labyrinths of thoughts and feelings inside a character’s head. Often the stories refer to dreams, and have themselves a dreamy quality, and they left me with the uneasiness of eavesdropping on people’s very inner feelings: the young sister who loves her older sister’s blind lover; ...more
جانب آخر يظهر إبداع كاواباتا الأدبي...قصص كما وصفها تماما بحجم راحة اليد...ولكنها تطرق أبواب القلب والحياة...وتربط بين الإنسان والطبيعة من حوله متجاوزة كل الحواجز...فــ :

" الثلج، القمر، البراعم، تلك كلمات تعبر عن الفصول، فيما هي تنداح مفضية أحدها إلى الآخر، وهي تشتمل، في التقاليد اليابانية، مجال الجبال، الأنهار، الأعشاب، الأشجار، وتجليات الطبيعة الوافرة، والمشاعر الإنسانية كذلك"

بحجم راحة اليد...نعم...ولكنها بعيدة عن التسطيح رغم بساطتها...عميقة في اختزال جزء كبير من الحياة اليابانية بتقاليدها وأج
Erasmo Guerra
I wanted to love this book. Over the years, I've heard so many great things about these short-short stories, but I could never really quite get into them even though I read the entire collection. Reminded me of looking at the gorgeous window displays at Tiffany--things of beauty that I couldn't quite touch, unable to reach them emotionally or otherwise understand what was going on or why. The subtlety and shades of meaning were lost on me. The recurring environments of hot spring inns and charac ...more
Sep 05, 2008 FeLicia rated it really liked it
Recommended to FeLicia by: Pete Rock
Due to the success of two of my writing teachers (Pete Rock and Bruce Holland Rogers), I wanted to study short-shorts/flash fiction and this was a good place to begin.

Although "Canaries" is probably the most anthologized of Kawabata's stories, I found a other treasures in this tome. "The Rainy Station" is one of those. Beginning with the opening line "Wives, wives, wives,..." it carries the reader throughout the disappointing life of a typical housewife with an interesting twist. So many of the
Xenia Germeni
Jan 23, 2016 Xenia Germeni rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Εδω δε θα πω τίποτα...Τιποτα απολυτως γιατι θα χαλασω τα παντα...Το βιβλιο, το συγγραφεα, την πατριδα του, το μεταφραστη...Απλα θα μοιραστω μαζι σας την τελευταια παραγραφο απο το εξαιρετικο επιμετρο του Παναγιώτη Ευαγγελίδη: "Ανάμεσα στον αγώνα για το σύγχρονο και τη λαχτάρα για τους χαμένους παράδεισους της ομορφιάς του άλλοτε, ανάμεσα στον κόσμο και τη μοναχικότητα, λάμπει το φως του ονείρου, η πραγματικότητα της μη σκέψης, η διάλυση μέσα σ'όλα τα πράγματα, η ενυπάρχουσα πεποιθηση του ότι πρά ...more
What a nice surprise, I didn't know Hiroshi Shimizu's 1936 movie "Mr. Thank You" was based off a Kawabata short story.

I know Kawabata also worked on A Page of Madness so I'm going to assume "The Man Who Did Not Smile" is related to that experience, seeing as it's about a writer on a movie set, Noh masks, a mental hospital, etc.
May 22, 2009 Rauan rated it it was amazing
it's been 4 years or so since I read these stories but the way I felt still glows in me. This is not to say I can remember any details of the stories themselves.. I can't. That's how I am. But the feelings of awe. Of encountering strange beauty. Of being led slowly through small but intricate (and glowing also) little gardens and baths. That all glows in me. It's a book of glowing flesh. Of a bitch about to whelp.

I came to this book by sheer chance. Beckian Goldberg Fritz (who's used the word co
الكتاب يحتوي على 70 قصة قصيرة يترواح طول كل منها مابين صفحة إلى 7 صفحات تقريباً. القصص كثيرة ومتنوعة وسبب إقتنائي لهذا الكتاب هو أني في الفترة الأخيرة بدأت أنجذب نحو الكتب التي تحتوي على عدد كبير من القصص القصيرة, لأن كل قصة بالنسبة لي تعتبر مفاجأة أنتظرها على أحر من الجمر, على عكس الرواية الكاملة التي سأعيش معها وحدها من بداية قراءتي لنهايتها, خصوصا إذا بدأت الرواية تصبح مملة من المنتصف فسيصعب علي إنهاءها.

هذا الكتاب جيد, ليس بالممتاز وليس بالسيء. فهو يحمل عدد قليل (مقارنةً بالعدد الكلي) من القص
Kyle Muntz
May 10, 2015 Kyle Muntz rated it it was amazing
A set of poingnant, breif, sad gems that spans fifty years of Kawabata's career, with almost all the stories between two to five pages. They're very silent, still stories but deeply insightful. I won't claim there were no duds, but the mood of the collection as a whole is incredible.
Sep 06, 2010 Michael rated it liked it
These stories are the Japanese equivalent of Lydia Davis's short short stories, as so employ more aesthetic considerations. Where Davis's stories are pure practices in economy, Kawabata's stories are more about the distillation of complicated interpersonal stories into beautiful tableaux, sometimes with a distracting predilection for the dreamlike.


Kawabata, as opposed to Lydia Davis, gives his short short stories a haze of dreaminess with deft, artful, but inexact images, whereas Davis is
Pete Young
Nov 13, 2012 Pete Young rated it liked it
Seventy miniature short stories that Kawabata wrote between 1923 and 1972. It’s said the essence of Kawabata’s writing can be found in these brief episodes in Japanese lives more so than in his novels, but in truth they often feel like fragments of larger stories that Kawabata may have discarded then stripped down to their absolute minimum. Many end with a character staring into the distance, perhaps wondering something, or with an unresolved issue still hanging uncomfortably in the reader’s min ...more
Nov 17, 2015 Isa-janis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Son muchísimos relatos cortos y algunos no me han acabado de gustar, pero otros me han impresionado muchísimo. Kawabata no tiene muchos altibajos, aunque sí puede verse una tendencia a ciertos temas a proliferar según la época en la que escribió los cuentos (como están ordenados cronológicamente, eso se ve claramente).
Jul 26, 2008 Patricia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japan, abitallthetime
Like a small stone dropped into a pond, these minute but potent stories send out ripples long after they've been read. Some of the stories I read over and over are "Snow," "Up in the Tree," "Immortality," "Yuriko,"
Aug 08, 2009 pearl rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Felix Zilich
Nov 05, 2013 Felix Zilich rated it really liked it
Shelves: samurai-way
Любой японский писатель, говорит мне товарищ, в душе скрытый блогер. Будь то Сэй Сенагон, Мисима или Мураками – открываешь книгу и словно в чужую жежешечку с головой окунаешься.

Если говорить о знаменитом сборнике Нобелевского лауреата Ясунари Кавабаты “Рассказы на ладони”, то этот эффект усиливается в десятки раз. “Рассказы на ладони” писались автором на протяжении полувека. Но если точнее – собирались. Кавабате любовно сортировал собственные маленькие рассказики всю свою жизнь от издания к изд
J.M. Hushour
Jul 13, 2016 J.M. Hushour rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These are ticklish teases that hardly merit the name "stories". Kawabata excels at the simple and pinprick nuance, so naturally, and as he even said so, these little slices of narratives exemplify what makes him stand out from much of the blather of 20th century fiction.
Concise and often gaspworthy, figmental and fragmental in much the same way that Nabokov could be and that Calvino tries to be, the stories are almost impossible to lump together. The themes are as disparate as their beginnings a
Patrick McCoy
Jun 23, 2014 Patrick McCoy rated it really liked it
I was inspired to read Yasunari Kawabata's collection of short stories, Palm-Of-The-Hand-Stories (1988), when I learned that one of them, "Mr. Thank You," inspired Hiroshi Shimizu's film of the same name. It is a brief four page story that was expanded into a full length feature. It was said that kawabata felt these stories were the essence of his craft and I can see the lyricism that infuses his novels in many of these stories. However, some of them are so brief they are quickly forgotten, but ...more
Apr 08, 2011 k rated it really liked it
Maybe had some unrealistic expectations about how good this one would be. His ability to write complete stories with a narrative and few gimmicks in two to four pages is amazing, and it was surprising how much some of the stories reminded me of Carver rather than other Japanese authors, but I expected more. There are about 70 stories in the collection, and probably less than a third of them had an effect on me. The others were either choppy (probably a translation issue), or too obvious, or too ...more
Jun 29, 2012 Asma rated it it was amazing
Little stories reminiscent of scattering dandelion puffs into the air. After two or three pages the changing plot and characters call for a reorientation. I generally reread each short two or three times. Note taking later refreshed my memory for discussing. My five-star rating pertains to their variety, clarity, and situations. Each, a sparkling jewel in this unique storybook.There are dreams, visions, myth, nature, as well as some realism. The reader should bring her imagination to appreciate ...more
Gela Tevzadze
Jul 03, 2007 Gela Tevzadze rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary
Charming and entertaining, full of profound sadness in stories describing life in the post-WWII Japan. Highly recommended to every admirer of the 20th Century Japanese literature (Abe, Misima, Akutagawa).

The introduction dutifully informs us that "Kawabata is only the second author from the Orient who was awarded the Nobel Prize", Rabindranath Tagore being the first. Does this mean that in 2006 Orhan Pamuk became only the third one? The statement provided in the said introduction might be sligh
Oct 14, 2010 Carmen rated it liked it
There are many things that I enjoyed about this book. The first reading stories that take place in cities and areas of Japan that I have been lucky enough to visit. I felt I was reliving my trip to that beautiful country. To me these short stories had a strong zen feeling, he takes a simple almost unimportant event and with limpidity in his writing he transports the Westerner to an ancient and mysterious land.
Aug 25, 2007 Sean rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in life
This is, in my humble opinion, the most influential modern book written. Kawabata at his best. There's not a story over 5 pages long in this book, but all of them encompass the nature of what it is to be human. If you love the essence of fine writing, you've already read this book. If not......get to it.
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Kindle version 2 13 Mar 16, 2013 12:15PM  
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Yasunari Kawabata (川端 康成) was a Japanese short story writer and novelist whose spare, lyrical, subtly-shaded prose works won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968, the first Japanese author to receive the award. His works have enjoyed broad international appeal and are still widely read.

Nobel Lecture: 1968
More about Yasunari Kawabata...

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“The true joy of a moonlit night is something we no longer understand. Only the men of old, when there were no lights, could understand the true joy of a moonlit night.” 111 likes
“Long accustomed to a life of self-indulgent solitude, he began to yearn for the beauty of giving himself to others. The nobility of the word 'sacrifice' became clear to him. He took satisfaction in the feeling of his own littleness as a single seed whose purpose was to carry forward from the past into the future the life of the species called humanity. He even sympathized with the thought that the human species, together with the various kinds of minerals and plants, was no more than a small pillar that helped support a single vast organism adrift in the cosmos-- and with the thought that it was no more precious than the other animals and plants.” 15 likes
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