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The Woman in the Dunes

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  13,858 Ratings  ·  1,022 Reviews
This beautiful novel by one of Japan's most important writers is also one of the most strangely terrifying and memorable books you'll ever read. The Woman in the Dunes is the story of an amateur entomologist who wanders alone into a remote seaside village in pursuit of a rare beetle he wants to add to his collection. But the townspeople take him prisoner. They lower him in ...more
Paperback, 241 pages
Published by Vintage (first published 1962)
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Ashes Xinom The book is really dark and psychologically intense. I would suggest you read this book without any expectations. Hope you enjoy it

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Feb 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2013, japan
This book is horrifically claustrophobic and eerie.

How much of our lives consist of frantically trying to stay afloat? Life can be as fruitless as a man trapped under sand dunes digging to live...or living to dig. Do we work to live or live to work? If you think being held hostage in sand is fantastical, what do you think your life is, anyway?

This book wears you down. It gets into your skin, your hair, under your fingernails. The sand is everywhere. The wind, the salt air, their eyes always wat
Aug 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, japan, 2014, reviewed

When we mix surrealistic Kafkaesque climate with existential questions about sense of human being then we get something like The woman in the dunes .

Tale about a man obsessed or maybe possessed with sand who during the trip to the sea is trapped in the dunes in a cave inhabited by a lonely woman. Initially desperately tries to escape, but the magnetic strength of the woman, her desperate fight with sand makes that what previously seemed to be a trap now becomes a sense of his life.

The first wh
Apr 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

Without the threat of punishment there is no joy in flight.

In Kobo Abe's fantasy world of The Woman in the Dunes, an amateur entomologist on vacation finds himself in a remote coastal village built amid deeply undulating dunes. There, he is tricked by a lonely widow and her neighboring villagers, trapped in deep pits shored by sand drift walls, to be charged with the task of shoveling back the ever-sliding banks, persistent and never-ending in its threat to entomb them.

Sand moves aroun
Apr 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japanese-lit
“While he mused on the effect of the flowing sands, he was seized from time to time by hallucinations in which he himself began to move with the flow.”

This book is about a man who tricked and has to live in a house at the bottom of a sand pit with a woman. They can't escape the sand which settles on them even as they sleep. As much as they shovel it away, they can't get rid of it.

This is definitely a unique story. I now know more about sand than I probably need to. I never really thought much a
Mar 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: にほん
While reading this book my thoughts were constantly racing towards Camus’s ‘The Myth of Sisyphus” "From the moment absurdity is recognized, it becomes a passion, the most harrowing of all."

Premises of hope, alienation and irrationality reeking from every printed word induced me into inferring Kobo Abe being the Japanese Camus. The protagonist Junpei Niki illustrates traits of Sisyphean persona; pursuing meaningless task of digging buckets of sand from the pit only to see it fill up again.

Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sand women, entomologists
Since I started reading both more avidly and more widely several years ago, I've spent more time analyzing different genres, different kinds of authors, and different kinds of literature. In Jane Smiley's 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel, she makes a number of observations about how classic French novels differ from classic British novels, and how American novelists differ from either. I'm not well read enough in French and British literature to judge the validity of her points, other than to not ...more
Oct 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cheryl by: David
Shelves: fiction, japan
What happens if while on vacation, you disappear? Who would miss you, take out newspaper ads for you, hang missing-person flyers on poles for you, call the cops for you?

High in the night sky there was a continuous, discordant sound of wind blowing at a different velocity. And on the ground the wind was a knife continually shaving off thin layers of sand, as a village of sand lost all hope. The village's only resourcefulness has now become enslavement. Poor entomologist, a man who finds pleasure
Dec 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
رواية مختلفة وفكرة مميزة كتبها كوبو آبي سنة 1962
الإنسان عندما يصبح مجرد جسد لا رأي له في حياته, ولا يملك الاعتراض على إجباره على عمل لا يرضاه
جومبي صائد الحشرات في الكثبان الرملية يجد نفسه مع امرأة غريبة في حفرة عميقة وسط الرمال
لا يستطيع الخروج منها وعليه أن يقوم بعمل محدد بدون أي نفع مادي أو معنوي.
الكاتب استطاع أن يصف ببراعة التغيرات في نفسية وتصرفات رجل فاقد للحرية ومحاط بالرمال على جسده وفي طعامه وشرابه
بدءاً من الأسئلة والاستنكار ثم الاحساس بالقهر والغضب والخوف ومحاولة الهرب
النهاية محيرة تثير
Dhanaraj Rajan
Mar 22, 2017 rated it liked it
May be three and half stars.

This is a strange Japanese novel. It is something surreal.

The Premise and the Story line: A man is taken a prisoner by a village which is near the sea front. He is lowered down a sand pit where lives a young widow. Here he is made to help out the woman in shoveling out the advance of sand. As the house (sandpit) is in the border of the town and one among many such sand pit homes, the duty of the house members is to block the advance of sand dunes. Or else the whole v
hossein sharifi
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
فوق العاده بود ! فقط همین رو میتونم بگم .. یک رمان کافکایی که با فلسفه ی کامو و اگزیستانسیالیسم سارتر مخلوط شده و در دل خودش آنیما و آنیموس یونگ رو هم جا داده بود .. یک رمان پست مدرن تمام عیار !
میخواستم نقدی برای این کتاب بنویسم اما چند نقد خوب در وب پیدا کردم که لینکشون رو اینجا میزارم.. در صورت علاقه مطالعه کنید

زن در ریگ روان کوبو آبه

نقد روان شناختی داستان «زن در ریگ روان»
Jan 04, 2008 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: good friends that you kind of hate a little
Shelves: crappy-books
My first year at SFSU, me and my roommate decided to recommend books to each other, books we loved, in order to get to know each other better. It was the kind of quasi-homoerotic, pseudo-intellectual buddy activity which has since become the staple of our relationship.

The first book he recommended was "Woman in the Dunes". I struggled with it and felt intellectually inferior. He was my friend and I wanted to like it. I tried really hard. I fell asleep reading it at least three times. I remember
Pooya Kiani
حقیقتا کتاب خوبی بود.
اگر یک مقداری از دایرهی مرد-شن-زن-گریز خارج میشد، و در عین حال چفت و بست داستان را هم رعایت میکرد، اثر تبدیل به یک شاهکار ادبی میشد. منظور اصلی اینکه هنرمند یک مقداری مقهور هنرِ خودش شده بود، و این طبعا درست نیست. از ترجمه بوی شتابزدگی و عدم وسواس بلند میشد.
طرح داستانیِ بسیار قدرتمند و بیبروبرگرد قابل دفاعی داشت.
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kafka on the shore...
Sand sucks.

The sand in this novel is so oppressive, invasive, and omnipresent, that after finishing the book, I felt like I needed to take a shower. Maybe two.

"His words were absorbed by the sand and blown by the wind, and there was no way of knowing how far they reached."
The book is the basis of one of my favorite Japanese movies, and it's story is so eccentric, I wanted to see how it worked as a novel. It's the tale of a man, who disappeared and was declared dead after he journeyed on his
Niloo Beygi
Jun 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: رمان
درسته طرحش خیلی برام نو و جذاب بود اما اون بخش توضیحات بسط داده شده راجع به مسائل مختلف از حشره شناسی،شن،رابطه جنسی و غیره داشت که آدم رو کلافه می کرد...
کتاب یه براعت استهلال هم داره چون اولش می گه که 7سال گذشته و مرد پیدا نشده اما خب نمی شه منکر تصویرپردازی و فضاسازی خوبش شد. نویسنده شن رو از ظریق توصیفاتش وارد حس مخاطب می کنه. دیگه بعد از اون شن رو حس می کنی.
یکی از جالب ترین موقعیت هایی بوده که یه نویسنده می تونه خلق کنه و درش رنج و تنهایی آدما رو نشون بده. اون تلاش سیزیف واری که مرد برای فرار
peiman-mir5 rezakhani
با خواندنِ این داستان اولین چیزی که به ذهنم رسید زندگی کنونی ما ایرانیان بود... اون دهکده رو ایرانِ عزیزم دیدم... و انسان هایِ گرفتار در گودال های شنی رو دختران و پسران سرزمین پاک ایران زمین دیدم... ایرانیانی که هر روزشان مثلِ دیروز است... گرفتار در تکرار و تکرار... همه افسرده و پرخاشگر... با این تفاوت که یکی بیشتر پول دارد و دیگری کمتر... با این تفاوت که اون مرد شکم دَل به واسطۀ طمع به درونِ چاله رفت... ما به بهانۀ چه رفتیم؟ چه به روزِ سرزمینِ ما آوردن؟ آیا ما همان مردم همیشه شاد در زمانِ بهرام ...more
Aug 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japan, slipstream
A novel of erosion - erosion of resolve, erosion of morality, erosion of sanity. Delightfully surreal.
Kōbō Abe's The Woman in the Dunes is not only his most famous novel, but a classic of post-war Japanese literature and existential literature in general. Reviewers compared Abe to Sartre and Camus; it's been years since I've read both, so I'll do my best to judge the book on its own merit.

On surface, The Woman in the Dunes is a deceptively simple story. The main character, Niki Jumpei, is an amateur entomologist who travels to a remote area of Japan in search for rare insects. Jumpei desires to
Nate D
Read within a week of seeing the film, I'm surprised by how closely they parallel eachother. Somehow, the entire novel's storyline fits unhurriedly into the film's two hours, with the only omissions being the protagonist's introspections into the natures of sand and sex. Some of which here are actually amazing -- the metaphysics of sand moreso then the rather garbled sexual politics sequence, which I read over twice but am still confused by, for reasons that might actually have to do with some o ...more
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sadece son zamanlarda değil şimdiye kadar okuduğum en iyi kitaplardan biriydi. Uzun zamandır özlemini çektiğim "Suç ve Ceza", "Satranç" ve hatta "Monte Kristo Kontu" seviyesinde bir kitaptı. Gerçekten okurken çok zevk aldım çok mutlu oldum.
(view spoiler)
Jul 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"It was like trying to build a house in the sea by brushing the water aside".

Why are sand and time so often associated? Is it their naturally agglutinative particularity? Is it the pervasive image of the hourglass or its instrumental functionality?

"SAND: an aggregate of rock fragments. Sometimes including loadstone, tinstone, and more rarely gold dust. Diameter: 2 to 1/16 mm.

"A very clear definition indeed. In short, then, sand came from fragmented rock and was an intermediate between clay and
Mar 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star-diamonds
If life were made up only of important things, it really would be a dangerous house of glass, scarcely to be handled carelessly. But everyday life was exactly like the headlines. And so everybody, knowing the meaninglessness of existence, sets the center of his compass at his own home.

My experience in japanese literature begins and ends with Haruki Murakami whose literature isn't so much japanese. Or so they say those who know one or two things about the matter. So technically, this is my firs
Edward Lorn
Nov 19, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: paperbacks
Man, this is gonna be rough. I'm going to have people telling me that "Just because you were bored doesn't mean this wasn't a terrific piece of literature." No doubt, the original Japanese text must've been wonderful to win the award(s) it did, but this translation is merely serviceable. Then again, the idea of a parable is to keep the story and writing simple in order to clearly relay your message.

Still, lads and ladies, I was mighty bored. Took me eight days to read 241 pages. (Oh, by the way,
Sep 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"زندگی چیزی نیست که آدم بتواند بفهمد"

فضای تلخ و سیاهی داره داستان... اون یک هشتم میلیمتر ساده و پیچیده که تمام کتاب رو پوشونده و هر تکانی که میخورید از سروکولتون پایین میریزه و معنی تمام چیزها رو توی خودش خلاصه کرده واقعا ترسناکه... شن چیزی نیست ولی همه چیزه... شن هرچیزیه توی این زندگی که ما باهاش درگیریم... ازش که غافل بشیم آوار میشه روی سرمون، اگه ازش بخوایم بگذریم میشینه رومون و ذره ذره از بیرون مارو میپوسونه... زندگی همون دهکده شن آلود و زرد و چرکینه... انگار هر تلاشی برای رهایی ازش محکوم به
Feb 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
زن در ریگ روان اثر عمیقی است. یک دست است و این یک دست بودن در فرم و محتوا کار را بسیار قوی کرده. از جنبه های فنی و نوشتن که بگذریم، محتوای اگزیستانسیالیستی کار بدون افت، بدون اینکه به داستان بودن کار لطمه بزند راه خودش را می رود و برای خواننده "ساده نگر" داستان را فدای محتوا نمی کند.
کتاب سه بخش دارد. سه بخش که اگر بهتر نگاه کنیم متناظر تز، آنتی تز و سنتز هستند. تز امید و رهایی از بیهودگی، آنتی تز سیزیف و سنتز زندگی.
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
داستان مردی که توی کلبهای شنی گیر میافته و درصورتی که خونه رو شنروبی نکنه کشته میشه. درواقع مرد رو مجبور به موندن توی خونه کردن. حالا این مرد یا باید فرار کنه، یا باید به این سرنوشت تن بده
(برای از بین نرفتن کیف و حالِ خوندن کتاب، خیلی خیلی داستان و المانهاش رو خلاصه کردم)

مساله اینجاست که این شنروبی و این کارهای روزمره، استعارهای از اعمال روتین انسان در زندگیه. درواقع شبیهترین چیز به این کتاب، افسانه سیزیف هست. همون سیزیفی که هر روز باید سنگی رو به بالای کوه میغلطوند و سنگ باز به پایینِ کوه سر می
Mar 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Παράξενο και κλειστοφοβικό,το βιβλίο του Ιάπωνα Κόμπο Άμπε,είναι ένα λογοτεχνικό διαμάντι,αριστούργημα τέλειο από άποψη μεγέθους,και κορύφωσης της πλοκής.

Ένας τριαντάχρονος άντρας,δάσκαλος στο επάγγελμα,με χόμπι την συλλογή εντόμων,αποφασίζει να περάσει την άδεια του στην επαρχεία προκειμένου να εντοπίσει ένα σπάνιο έντομο.Ο Νίκι λοιπόν,κατά την διάρκεια αυτής τη αναζήτησης,φθάνει σε ένα απομακρυσμένο παραθαλάσσιο χωρίο,χωμένο στους αμμόλοφους,στο οποίο ζητά φιλοξενία για να περάσει την νύχτα.Η
Marat M. Yavrumyan
Տարօրինակ էր, ինչպես և ճապոնացի մյուս բոլոր հեղինակներից կարդացած գրքերը։ Ժամանակն արժեր, իրոք։ Ի՞նչ տվեց գիրքը, Աստված գիտի։ Ամեն դեպքում, ամենից շատ հավանածս հատվածը՝

— Լավ, մի մխիթարիր... Կյանքը այնպիսի բան չէ, որ միայն մխիթարվելով ապրեն... Այնտեղ ուրիշ կյանք է, այստեղ ուրիշ... Եվ միշտ թվում է, թե ուրիշ կյանքն ավելի քաղցր է... Ամենից գարշելին մտածելն է, թե ի՞նչ կլինի, եթե կյանքը հենց այսպես էլ անցնելու է գնա... Մի՞թե սա է կյանքը... Այդ բանը ոչ ոք չգիտե... Էհ, ավելի լավ է մինչև կոկորդ խրված լի
Deniz Balcı
Başyapıt! Dünya yaratmak dedikleri bu kadar ustaca yapılır. Alttan altta verdiği mesajlar ve psikoloji çözümlemeleride cabası. Sonu ise karın ağrısı.
Aug 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third time I am writing this review after having it crash on me like a wall of sand, and now in this seemingly Sisyphean task - like the fate of the novel's narrator, condemned to shovelling sand in a nightmarish, inescapable pit - I feel like Kōbō Abe captured perfectly the sheer mundanity of the struggles we fight against daily when we ask ourselves what does it mean to be living. And how much does it mean to survive? After having written out a full review twice already, I feel dra ...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Japanese Literature: Woman in the Dunes Chapter 10 to the end 5 27 Jul 31, 2015 03:11PM  
Japanese Literature: Woman in the Dunes 10-20 1 23 Jul 12, 2015 06:19AM  
Japanese Literature: Woman in the Dunes Part 1 Chapters 1-10 1 25 Jul 09, 2015 06:23AM  
Japanese Literature: The Woman In the Dunes Chapters 1-5 5 25 Jul 08, 2015 10:17AM  
The World's Liter...: Part II (ch 11-27) 16 39 Jun 26, 2015 05:23PM  
The World's Liter...: Part I (ch 1-10) 15 69 Apr 28, 2015 08:28PM  
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Kōbō Abe (安部 公房 Abe Kōbō), pseudonym of Kimifusa Abe, was a Japanese writer, playwright, photographer and inventor.

He was the son of a doctor and studied medicine at Tokyo University. He never practised however, giving it up to join a literary group that aimed to apply surrealist techniques to Marxist ideology.

Abe has been often compared to Franz Kafka and Alberto Moravia for his surreal, often n
More about Kōbō Abe...

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“Loneliness was an unsatisfied thirst for illusion.” 112 likes
“Do you shovel to survive, or survive to shovel?” 63 likes
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