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The Diving Pool: Three Novellas

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  4,790 ratings  ·  648 reviews
From Akutagawa Award-winning author Yoko Ogawa comes a haunting trio of novellas about love, fertility, obsession, and how even the most innocent gestures may contain a hairline crack of cruel intent. A lonely teenage girl falls in love with her foster brother as she watches him leap from a high diving board into a pool—a peculiar infatuation that sends unexpected ripples ...more
Paperback, 164 pages
Published January 22nd 2008 by Picador (first published 1990)
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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 ·  4,790 ratings  ·  648 reviews

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Paquita Maria Sanchez
Okay, a few things are definitely going on here, and I'm happy to clear up the confusion for anyone who may not have my depth and breadth of knowledge on the subject. People are crazy or sane, things are happening or not happening, supporting characters are flesh and blood or mental constructs, and there's honey. Or blood. A body or a beehive. Okay? You're welcome.

As you can see, I actually had no idea what was real at least half the time while reading this, but I love it. I like the sparse pros
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: not divers, pregnant women, or long lost cousins
Well, if I ever want acid indigestion, I know just the book to turn to.

I've been very lucky this past year with contemporary Japanese authors, and Yoko Ogawa has been one of the top on that list. This novella features three standalone stories, all united by recurring themes. In each story, the main characters assume the role of the incongruous outsider, distant and apathetic, but frothing underneath with violent undercurrents of obsession and desire.

Perhaps most significantly, these outsiders
It's ironic that this was translated by Stephen Snyder, who wrote a famous essay about literary translation – The Murakami Effect – complaining that translated fiction tends disproportionately to favour those writers who use simple language and minimal cultural detail. Ironic because that's exactly how I'd characterise this book. It exists comfortably in that Global English which calls on a small vocabulary, a flat style, and no knowledge of its context, and builds its sense of generalised anxie ...more
May 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
The three stories in this collection are disturbing, warped and lovely. Unlike with some collections, the stories seem to belong together and are placed in a chronological fashion, by age of the the first-person female narrator (though they are not the same person): from a young teenage girl to a college-aged woman with a part-time job to a young wife. The stories are told in deceptively simple prose that keeps you thinking for a long time afterward.

There are thematic and symbolic strains: of me
Janie C.
Aug 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yoko Agawa's writing is magnetic. Each of the three novellas in this volume pulled me instantly into the lives of the characters. Themes of isolation, jealousy, cruelty and compassion are presented with ease, compelling the reader to become involved with personalities either unsavory or benevolent. The words fly as graciously as bees and tempt the reader to seek honey in the strangest of places.
Three stories, all of which feel unsettling in a way that can be difficult to quantify. The main characters might be collectively described as female outsiders: two women and one girl, all of them lonely, detached, and concerned with observing rather than participating.

In 'The Diving Pool', teenage Aya focuses her obsessive energies on her foster brother Jun, whose body she covets, and a little girl named Rie, whom she torments. 'Pregnancy Diary' again centres on a character who seems overly pre
Mar 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: big-red-circle
I think she should have made a novel from "The Diving Pool". I thoroughly enjoyed our hero empowering herself and expressing love through brutal cruelty to another:
"Rie's terrified tears were particularly satisfying, like hands caressing me in exactly the right places – not vague, imaginary hands but his hands, the ones I was sure would know just how to please me." Yikes, huh?

"Pregnancy Diary" - Eerie. Weird. More of Ogawa's nourishing cruelty.

"Dormitory" - Again, cruelty in place of communicat
Jun 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Despite the fact I find Asian literature a bit unconventional, the more I read it, the more I like it. This book is no exception. It has it all - melancholy, questionable behaviour and obsession. I've read it in one sitting, it really is fast-paced, but it's not for everyone.

This is a collection of three short stories that are really dark. You're never sure whether the story will turn into tragedy or resolve safely. Or even if it will resolve at all. The characters walk on thin line between luc
Michael Livingston
May 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Three cool, uncomfortable novellas. Ogawa's simple, elegant prose makes the darkness at the heart of these stories even stranger.
First read: November 2016
Rating: DNF at 6%
I wasn't in the right mood to read this a few years ago so I abandoned it then. I'm hoping I enjoy it more now!

Re-read: May 2019

The Diving Pool - 2.5/5 stars
Pregnancy Diary - 4/5 stars
Dormitory - 4.5/5 stars

I really liked the second and third stories in this collection, which I read for the first time. The Diving Pool is definitely my least favourite as the narrator is such an awful human being it makes the story hard to read. Dormitory was an absolute
Dec 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Last year, I read Yoko Ogawa’s newest collection, Revenge – spare and unsettling tales of emotionally damaged individuals that contrast elegant prose with often bizarre situations.

The Diving Pool, written nearly a quarter century earlier, provides a context for Ms. Ogawa’s trajectory as a writer. It offers three novellas that start out gently and gradually build in intensity while maintaining their dreamlike state.

In the first, a truculent teen named Aya is obsessed with her younger foster broth
Melissa Chung
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
This is book number four today that I’ve read fir the dewey 24 hour readathon and I have to say it was a strange one. This book isa collection of three novellas. Out of the three I enjoyed the diving pool best.

The Diving Pool is about a girl whose parents run a church and orphanage. The girl resents being the only non orphan and finds her parents intolerable. A quote that sums up the short story is this...”My desires seemed simple and terribly complicated at the same time: to gaze at Jun’s wet
Miriam Cihodariu
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japan
Another read from Ogawa, and I continue to like her style overall. It is indeed what people would call 'disturbing', since it voices the inner thoughts and desires that don't do people much honor.

A teenager in love with her adoptive brother likes to take out her frustrations on a baby sister, by torturing her, as long as no marks of her activities remain.

A woman studies her sister's pregnancy with a semi-fascinated and semi-disgusted eye as if studying some alien manifestation.

Another woman t
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
It's always exciting when trying out writers for the first time. You never know what to expect and whether the book is ultimately good or not, there's still that initial feeling of unfamiliarity and discovery. Yoko Ogawa has been popping up in my feeds a lot lately, with generally rave reviews and comments about 'The Housekeeper and the Professor'. I still haven't read that but could gather that it was a generally sweet, moving tale with some romance thrown in.

Instead of going for that most well
Ogawa writes tightly and draws you into her stories. I think the meaning between these stories would probably be best debated by those studying Japanese literature.
Each of these three novellas put their characters in a pendulum of normality and evil.
In "The Diving Pool" the teenage narrator lives in an orphanage run by her parents. She is infatuated with a long term resident who dives in the local pool. She also has an evil side when dealing with the youngest resident.
In "Pregnancy Diary" a youn
The Diving Pool, a collection of three novellas, is the only outstanding work of Yoko Ogawa's which is currently available in English, which I had not yet read.  Although a prolific author, very few of Ogawa's works are available in English at present, and I can only hope that this is rectified in the near future.  I find Ogawa's fiction entirely beguiling; it is strange, chilling, surprising, and oh so memorable.  This collection has been translated from the original Japanese by Stephen Snyder. ...more
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Diving Pool consists of 3 novellas although I would call them long short stories. They are called “The Diving Pool,” “Pregnancy Diary,” and “Dormitory”. They are all good. I would have to rate The Diving Pool as my favorite, although it gave me the creeps/chills. Man, does she have a way with words, and paragraphs! On a creepy/"please God don’t make something terrible happen" scale of 0 to 10, I would rate the “The Diving Pool,” as an 8…”Pregnancy Diary” as a 6 and “Dormitory” as a 5. They a ...more
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is the second book I have read by this leading Japanese author. After recently reading her wonderful book “The Housekeeper and the Professor” I started looking for her other translated works.
This is a collection of 3 novellas, all marked by her simple elegant prose. My favourite was the title story, about a teenage girl whose religious parents run a home (the ‘Light House’) for orphans and abandoned children. She feels out of sync with her family and her home. “Sometimes, as I approach, th
Dec 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: prose-fiction
I have been dying for some more Ogawa ever since I read two of her short stories in The New Yorker over two years ago and instantly fell for her prose. A novel that was supposed to come out last year never arrived, and it's been one long tease.

Ogawa writes with unfettered, graceful prose that is seductive in its softness and simplicity, lending even more shock value to her dark subjects. In the title story, a young girl who grew up in the orphanage run by her parents has grown obsessed with the
Jan 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I recently read this book so that I could interview the translator, Stephen Snyder, for my radio show, _Translated By_. I read this book and _The Housekeeper and the Professor_ (also by Yoko Ogawa and translated by Stephen Snyder). I LOVED both books.

Ogawa has a reserved and distanced writing style that I find intriguing. Many of her characters are disaffected, young females, struggling to find their ways in the world, and many of her stories are haunting or disturbing because of the ways these
Farah Shamma
Apr 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
When I picked up this book of three novellas, I did not expect it to be so dark. I’d previously to this read one book for the Yuko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor, and it was one of my favorite books in 2014. This book of novellas was pretty great as well but for me, it took a whole new tone than what I was used to from the author.

The first novella, The Diving Pool, is about a girl who essentially has a thing for her foster brother and likes to watch him during his diving practice. We
H.A. Leuschel
Dec 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These three novellas are very different in style and story lines. It was a great introduction to a new author!
Sep 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Ogawa writes about dark and disturbing materials. But you don’t really get that, she sucks you in her everyday-normal-life vortex with its usual dialogues and people. But stories are chilling, although you don’t know why you feel like you are subtly creeped out. I like it when nature is one of the crucial characters – here it seems like rain never stops and light is circling around grey shades.

In 'Dormitory', she writes about this sound that she can’t explain. It’s something close to a vibratin
Callum McLaughlin
There's something about Ogawa's work that is so effortlessly unsettling. It's like wandering around a seemingly pristine room, feeling that something just isn't quite right about it, before spotting a patch of mould festering in the corner. We'd rather ignore its ugliness, lest it spoil the beauty, but Ogawa takes us by the hand and makes us stare right at it.

The three novellas that comprise this book all explore suppressed emotion, with her heroines' slightly off kilter view of the world and in
May 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The artistic and unique descriptions given with poetic prose were the higlights of this book (at least for me) but not the only elements that stood out.
The ambiguity surrounding the character's true intentions and their feelings was very intriguing. Though the conclusions (yet void of any closure) were in a manner frustrating; they were in fact what made this book so magnificent. The reality of life's own ambiguity was given in the most tasteful way possible. Despite being a translation, there w
Hafizz Nasri
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
These were all nightmarish and quite hauntingly gripping. The novellas totally leaving me with strange feeling, can't really shake off those plots out of my mind. The Diving Pool was mundane but enough to give me that twisted depressing vibe. While Pregnancy Diary was more personal and honest day to day experience, views and thoughts about the narrator's sister's pregnancy. It was funnily absurd and very evocative. My favorite part would be when she explained about her part-time work and while s ...more
This is a wonderful collection of novellas! I had very high expectations for this book, and was not let down by Ogawa's subtly creepy storytelling.

Five stars for the title story - a sad and eerie tale about how the darkness within us isolates us from those we care for most.

I'm less fond of the second story, Pregnancy Diary. It covers similar territory (view spoiler), but it's much less satisfying than The Diving Pool.

And Dormitory? I couldn't p
Dec 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nihon-no
More creepy goodness from Yoko Ogawa. Not quite as shocking as 'Revenge' but there were enough bits where I could feel my pulse in my throat.

[Aside: is it an odd admission to make that reading about other people's evil thoughts gets my heart racing?]
Hoda Marmar
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-book
Ogawa's creepy stories keep me begging for more. It is like a bad addiction really. The stories are either horrifying or downright mindblowing (or both). But I love them!
Swathi Shetty
Apr 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Oh my God! This book is fantastic! My second book written by this author and its weird, crazy, just the way I like it! It's a collection of three novellas, all three psychologically tense stories!
The first story is about love , a teenage girl watching her foster brother at the diving pool and admiring his body. The story also reveals her sadistic cruel side later on. The second story is about pregnancy. A girl watching her elder sister's pregnancy journey and recording her changes, her morning
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Yōko Ogawa (小川 洋子) was born in Okayama, Okayama Prefecture, graduated from Waseda University, and lives in Ashiya. Since 1988, she has published more than twenty works of fiction and nonfiction. Her novel The Professor and his Beloved Equation has been made into a movie. In 2006 she co-authored „An Introduction to the World's Most Elegant Mathematics“ with Masahiko Fujiwara, a mathematician, as a ...more

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