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Hiroshima Notes

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  336 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
Hiroshima Notes is a powerful statement on the Hiroshima bombing and its terrible legacy by the 1994 Nobel laureate for literature. Oe’s account of the lives of the many victims of Hiroshima and the valiant efforts of those who cared for them, both immediately after the atomic blast and in the years that follow, reveals the horrific extent of the devastation. It is a heart ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published June 7th 1996 by Grove Press (first published January 1st 1965)
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May 19, 2013 David rated it it was ok
Shelves: big-red-circle

I can't see why this was translated; it seems entirely for a Japanese audience. It opens in 1965 with the Japanese Communist Party (Beijing's stooges) and the Japanese Socialist Party (Moscow's) finding it increasingly difficult to work together ... ostensibly they both want to secure "world peace" ... but really it's all just more bullshit about power and I'm not sure why anyone, Oe least of all, should care. Why doesn't he confront this? Is it okay to use A-bomb victims in this way?

In later es
Oct 13, 2016 umberto rated it liked it
Shelves: japan, essays
Being a long-awaited Oe book after reading his “The Crazy Iris and Other Stories of the Atomic Aftermath” (Grove Press 1994) in August 2013, it was one of the paperbacks I delightfully bought at Kinokuniya, Sapporo Branch last July. However, I found this 7-chapter ‘powerful statement’ (back cover) regarded as his essays a bit less enjoyable than the one aforementioned because of its different genre. Generally, the book depicting short stories on a theme from various writers tend to be more reada ...more
November 2015

Hiroshima Notes is written by the 1994 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, so I was very excited to read his account of the Hiroshima bombing, convinced that this was an essential work.

The book consists of essays Kenzaburo Oe wrote about his visits to Hiroshima (1963-1965).

On his first journey to Hiroshima August 1963, the author arrives in the Peace Memorial Hall and is at a loss about what to do. So he begins telling about the preparations of the Ninth World Conference aga
Jul 13, 2012 AC rated it it was ok
I thought I might find this one easier to reach than "Who Will Teach Us...", but did not. It consists largely of Oe's reflections on the various incompetencies and hypocrasies of the Peace Movement in Japan c. 1964, along with reflections on the nobility of certain doctors. It is not that interesting. Perhaps this is one of those authors who simply cannot be read in translation or hurriedly.
Feb 23, 2016 Lahierbaroja rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sin duda este libro no es un libro amable, simpático o sencillo. Es una historia cruda, llena de dolor y que por desgracia es real. Es un libro atemporal, que trata temas perennes, que nos ayuda a comprender de qué es capaz el ser humano, para bien y para mal, cómo saca fuerzas de flaqueza para continuar viviendo. Y digo atemporal porque hoy podemos comprender la magnitud de nuestra historia, pero dentro de treinta años también podremos (y deberemos) echar la vista atrás para conocer los errores ...more
Feb 10, 2015 Teri rated it it was amazing
Kenzaburō Ōe delivers a very thought-provoking book in Hiroshima Notes. Seven individual "notes"/chapters are compiled to offer the reader a look at life in the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing that brought an end to World War II. Ōe wrote these notes after many visits to Hiroshima in the 60s. He details the rebuilding that was still continuing, the suffering and conditions of victims of the bombings, the men and women who treated and supported the survivors, and the ongoing work to ensure tha ...more
Jul 13, 2012 Harrison rated it it was ok
observations trite and too vague and abstract -- too much talk of the "morality" and "courage" of the victims which detracts from their concrete suffering. a lot of very flat writing about political movements. essays fail to produce a novel overarching idea.

oe is a good novelist, but not so good essayist.
Eric Hinkle
Nov 10, 2015 Eric Hinkle rated it really liked it
"The atomic bomb is known to all the world, but only for its power. It still is not known what hell the Hiroshima people went through, nor how they continue to suffer from radiation illnesses even today, nineteen years after the bombing."

This book, written between 1963-1965, is a very moving collection of journalistic essays dealing with Kenzaburo Oe's personal thoughts on the bombing of Hiroshima (and Nagasaki), and features many testimonies from survivors and eyewitnesses. It's as tragic as it
Apr 02, 2010 Nam rated it really liked it
After reading this book one thing I will say is that I am glad the author of this text Kenzaburō Ōe is still alive. The book is first of all highly humanizing. In that both it's message and effect to and on the reader is one of deep humanism. It is no surprise that he won the Nobel Prize in 1994 for literature. For some reason although the entire work is full of deeply humanizing passages the last 3-4 pages had the most impact on me. I read them at the laundromat crying (although lightly) deeply ...more
There's Humans of New York, then there's Humans of Hiroshima. Kidding aside, it was a rather delightful read about the undying tradition of resilience in Japanese culture, moreover the interesting estranged perspectives of the Japanese people towards the Western culture and warfare. Further reading of this book had told me that this was exclusively meant for the Japanese audience; as such, their literary culture is all over the place in his writing here.

While I am still engaging in self-study re
Oct 15, 2011 Tom marked it as to-read
Came across ref to this book in David Remnick profile of Oe, "A Father and His Son, a powerful piece about how Oe and his brain-damaged son helped each other develop their artistic voices. From The Devil's Problem, a collection of Remnick NYer profiles (which is filled with wide range of insightful pieces but well worth buying just for the Oe profile). Curious to see how this compares with John Hersey's famous "Hiroshima." Anyone out there read both?
William Graney
Apr 01, 2012 William Graney rated it liked it
A very intense topic and it was a good reminder for me of how devastating nuclear weapons can be. I felt the writing style was a little too formal. It was almost like reading a text book or medical report.
Lili VI
Feb 14, 2016 Lili VI rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tout le monde devrait lire ce livre !
Simona Dreca
Kenzaburō Ōe e le sue Note su Hiroshima mi hanno tenuto compagnia ieri. Devo ammettere che mi aspettavo di più da questo autore che di solito apprezzo molto. Il testo è composto da più saggi scritti tra il 1963 (durante il suo primo viaggio ad Hiroshima in occasione della Undicesima conferenza contro le bombe atomiche e a idrogeno) e il 1965. I primi saggi in particolar modo mi hanno deluso, sono quasi dei reportage sulla conferenza o sui rapporti dei medici e il loro comportamento e lasciano p ...more
Will Shadbolt
Oct 04, 2015 Will Shadbolt rated it it was amazing
I’ve seen other posts about this book wondering why it was translated into English. It is, after all, a very Japanese book, making statements like saying the atomic bombs and their aftermath were worse than the Holocaust (it’s not a pain Olympics, guys) and also dedicating about 1/3 of its size to Japanese conferences on the A-bomb back in the 60s and the factions behind it splitting up. For a lot of the other sections Oe throws around vague terms like “dignity” and “courage” liberally; to his c ...more
Jun 28, 2009 Antiquus rated it it was amazing
Is it not ironic for a leading country that is known to infiltrate most local political issues that concerns world peace was the very same country, long time ago, that scorched a not knowing town of their becoming the most desolate wasteland of human experience? In AUg. 6, 1945, an atomic bomb demonstrated its power and created a grotesque explosion in Hiroshima. It is an amiss to silence all formidable and dehumanizing experiences and the deluge that flattened the city, killing tens of thousand ...more
Nov 17, 2011 Psychopu rated it really liked it
Shelves: japan
Hiroshima Notes contains a collection of essays written by Kenzaburō Ōe between 1963-65, after several visits to the city struck by the atom bomb in August 1945. The essays were initially published separately in the Japanese media. In the seven pieces, Ōe exposes social and political implications and poses the question of Hiroshima's true meaning and legacy, not only for Japan but also for the world as a whole. Ultimately, although the author acknowledges the absurdity of the tragedy of Hiroshim ...more
Oct 02, 2016 Jordan added it
Although published over 50 years ago, this record of survivors' testimonies mingled with the author's personal observations is still an emotional read.

Kenzaburo Oe, Nobel Laureate, would have us believe that the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima was at once a horrible tragedy, shared by victims and perpetrators,and an enlightening experience for the rest of the victims. I say victims because the nuclear fallout, over time, decimated the remaining population. I see no dignity in death, nor
Jul 23, 2011 Katie rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2012
Can't really go wrong with a Nobel Prize winner in literature. Translation was good, and seeemed fluid. I did not expect it to be written so long after WWII. I am glad I had earlier read a collection of short stories which Oē had edited: The Crazy Iris (and other stories) before reading this book. Wish I had read Oē's Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness prior to reading Hiroshima Notes. That will be the next Oē book I read. Subject is so heavy, I need a few lighter books before I can return to the e ...more
Helga Cohen
This book is worth reading. It looks at a part of history that explores the feelings of the Japanese after the Atomic Bomb destroyed their city and lives. It explained well how people suffered mankind's worst disaster and how many have survived through great agony and sorrow. Hiroshima's A-bomb victims have a genuine plea for peace and that it never happen again anywhere in the world. Their plea is "No more Hiroshimas" and it should be heeded by the world.
Anne Freya
May 25, 2016 Anne Freya marked it as to-read
Shelves: non-fiction
Rekomendasi dari GR setelah kelar baca Unhinge the Universe. Nonfiksi ini bercerita tentang author yg mengunjungi 'neraka' lain yg dialami pihak Poros lainnya krn digempur Sekutu. Sama-sama 'neraka' yg menyedihkan.

Para sejarawan dan humanis kayanya bakal suka sama buku ini.

Sebagai hasil karya dari pemenang Nobel Prize in Literature in 1994, aku cukup penasaran sama isi buku ini.
Apr 15, 2015 Kenneth rated it really liked it
Exceedingly dull, but full of eloquent soliloquies and pertinent warnings of the horrors of nuclear war. You won't enjoy reading it, but that does not release every human being alive today from the obligation of doing so.
Aug 31, 2007 Jason rated it liked it
Interesting in its depiction of the nascent anti-nuclear movement in the early 60's, Oe tells the horrific stories of many of the survivors of the Hiroshima bombing. Leukemia epidemics, physical scars, suicides, this collection of essays isn't for the weak of heart.
Jul 12, 2012 Oliver rated it it was amazing
Shelves: asia
The best book so far I've read about Hiroshima. Stunning not by an ethnological viewpoint, but by its personal and poetic tonality. Touching by being concerned and worried, that's what I would call it.
No ficción, es verdad todos recordamos o nos enseñaron de la potencia de la bomba, pero el daño humano, la histeria colectiva, el suicidio, el postbomba es una especie de tabú. El libro te da a conocer lo que se quiere olvidar.
Dec 10, 2014 Tom added it
I was looking for another view on the immediate aftermath of the bombings and this compilation deals more with the long term conflicts and political battles within Japan since the bombings, up to the present day. Interesting and well documented but not what I was looking for.
Sep 28, 2011 Debra marked it as to-read
Ellen Marcolongo
A series of essays that document the human costs of war.
Hussain Altarakmah
Oct 15, 2014 Hussain Altarakmah rated it it was amazing
Eye-opening and thought-provoking.
Absolutely a must read for every single person who calls him or herself a human.
David Antunes
Una serie de lecciones sobre la dignidad humana y análisis de errores que no deben repetirse jamás
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Kenzaburō Ōe (大江 健三郎), is a major figure in contemporary Japanese literature. His works, strongly influenced by French and American literature and literary theory, engage with political, social and philosophical issues including nuclear weapons, social non-conformism and existentialism.

Ōe was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1994 for creating "an imagined world, where life and myth condens
More about Kenzaburō Ōe...

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“The dead can survive as part of the lives of those that still live.” 1625 likes
“Understanding comes hard to persons of high rank who are accustomed to phony lifestyles that involve no daily work.” 27 likes
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