Daniel Rose's Reviews > Japanese by Spring

Japanese by Spring by Ishmael Reed
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's review
Jan 09, 08

This is political satire at its most extreme - no one is spared (not even the author himself) and no subject is too taboo. Japanese businessmen cum political rebels take over a college campus and the surrounding town to show the students and faculty of overtly racist Jack London University that Westerners aren't the only ones who can play at imperialism. In a similar vein to Spike Lee's Bamboozled, Japanese by Spring left me not knowing whether to laugh or cry... or both.

I've been wanting to test the Ishmael Reed waters for a long time now, and although I'd always planned on reading Mumbo Jumbo first, I found this one among a sidewalk vendor's collection and decided to jump headlong. I didn't quite know what to make of Reed's writing style... It's very bizarre and unique - mixing magical realism, HEAVY political content, and more traditional narrative techniques. Japanese by Spring blends fact and fiction in way that makes it difficult to separate truth from fantasy. I spent some time trying to find any online reference to David Duke's extensive interracial porn collection, but after finding none, realized that whether or not the events in the book actually connect to reality is beside the point - Reed is always showing us some kind of truth.

Japanese by Spring is extremely thought provoking... get ready for a pretty intense head trip.

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