Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Palm-of-the-Hand Stories” as Want to Read:
Palm-of-the-Hand Stories
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Palm-of-the-Hand Stories

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  2,235 ratings  ·  190 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 1984)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Palm-of-the-Hand Stories, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Palm-of-the-Hand Stories

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
really liked it 4.00  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,235 ratings  ·  190 reviews

More filters
Sort order
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
Oct 07, 2013 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
Mar 24, 2011 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
HuDa AljaNabi
اسلوب كاواباتا غريب، تجربتي الاولى معه جائت بطريقة مفاجئة وعن طريق الصدفة.
نوعية القصص، في الغالب باهتة بعض الشيء، لم اقع في حب هذا الكاتب ولا حتى قصصه، ربما ستكون "الجميلات النائمات" فرصة اخرى .
الغلاف جميل :)
Apr 30, 2012 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
Mar 16, 2010 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
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 21, 2009 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
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
Sep 05, 2008 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
Sep 07, 2011 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.
Lucas Sierra
Apr 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cada uno de los setenta relatos por los que caminamos en Historias de la palma de la mano es un sueño. La lectura es, entonces, un deambular a través de un reino onírico en el que las imágenes y las situaciones responden a una lógica particular que no conseguimos articular del todo, pero que nos tocan hondo, acariciando la cabeza del niño que somos (aunque lo olvidemos) con la sabiduría del anciano que no hemos llegado a ser (aunque a veces lo sintamos).

Conjugada a los reinos de la ilusión, la o
Xenia Germeni
Jan 13, 2016 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.
Aug 31, 2010 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
Apr 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Truyện dài của Kawabata thường đã không dễ đọc. Diễn biến chậm. Tình tiết không nhiều. Tâm lý nhân vật có phần khó hiểu. Kết truyện đột ngột và lơ lửng. Người đọc dễ rơi vào cảm giác không hiểu mình vừa đọc gì, tự hỏi cuốn sách đã thật sự kết thúc hay chưa, và tác giả định nói lên điều gì qua câu chuyện. Đây lại còn là truyện ngắn trong lòng bàn tay, nơi mà Kabawata đề cao sự tối giản và tiết chế. Những chi tiết mà ông cho là dài dòng và thừa thãi ở truyện dài đều được cắt bỏ. Vậy nên những cảm ...more
Pete Young
Nov 13, 2012 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
May 22, 2009 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
Nov 11, 2015 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).
Jun 26, 2008 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,"
Kyle Muntz
May 10, 2015 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.
Alessandra JJ
Acabei passando mais de um mês na companhia desse livro, que reúne centenas de histórias curtas do vencedor do Nobel, do início ao fim da sua carreira. Nesse meio tempo acabei lendo também duas coletâneas de contos do Akutagawa, e não tem como não comparar os dois escritores, que eram amigos. Gostei dos contos do começo; que eram mais estranhos, e do fim do fim, por serem mais bonitos, mas no geral não gostei tanto quanto esperava. De contista japonês fico mesmo com o Akutagawa, que infelizmente ...more
Alex Pler
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Entendió que su creencia de haberla hecho infeliz era un error. Entendió que se había equivocado al evaluar su propia situación. Entendió que los seres humanos no pueden hacer infelices a otros seres humanos. Entendió también que había sido un error pedirle perdón. Entendió que era presuntuoso por parte de alguien que había mejorado siendo injusto con otro pedir perdón al que había quedado abatido por el agravio. Entendió que los seres humanos no pueden perjudicar a otros seres humanos.

Jul 10, 2018 marked it as will-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
For the right person, I think this collection of short-short fiction by Kawabata might be very stimulating, but I found it a chore to keep going, and finally decided either it's not for me, or it's not the right time for me. At first, I thought maybe these stories might have a Zen koan kind of effect (and they might, to some people), but I don't think my mind is open to this delivery. It may also very well be that my mind is not disciplined for this kind of writing. Perhaps after reading some of ...more
Apr 01, 2019 marked it as to-read
Editorial Note
Translators' Notes

--A Sunny Place (Hinata, 1923)
--The Weaker Vessel (Yowaki utsuwa, 1924)
--The Girl Who Approached the Fire (Hi ni yuku kanojo, 1924)
--A Saw and Childbirth (Nokogiri to shussan, 1924)
--The Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket (Batta to suzumushi, 1924)
--The Ring (Yubiwa, 1924)
--Hair (Kami, 1924)
--Canaries (Kanariya, 1924)
--Harbor Town (Minato, 1924)
--Photograph (Shashin, 1924)
--The White Flower (Shiroi hana, 1924)
--The Incident of the Dead Face (Shinigao no dekigoto, 19
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best short story collections I've encountered.... In fact it is going straight into my top five list. Achingly beautiful stories. Makes me wish I could write about beauty and beautiful incidents using beautiful prose this way. But why even try? Sometimes we need to relinquish our urge to jump in and take over and just be happy that someone else has done (or is doing) the beauty and the perfection on our behalf.

Saying that these stories are "beautiful" doesn't mean that all of them are
J.M. Hushour
Jul 09, 2016 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
Casey Hampton
I'm not sure what to say, so let me be brief. I'm enthralled with Yasunari Kawabata's form, and these short stories do linger, though not for traditional narrative reasons. I feel as if someone has loosed a wild bird inside my skull and its panic has sent all the artisan glasswork crashing to the stone floor.

Yasunari Kawabata gifts the reader much to think about.

— "Since he was blind, I often stared fixedly at him." —
This quote is a pretty good representation of how I felt after reading each sto
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Kindle version 2 13 Mar 16, 2013 12:15PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Blue Bamboo: Japanese Tales of Fantasy
  • Seven Japanese Tales
  • Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness: 4 Short Novels
  • Tales of Moonlight and Rain
  • Japanese Gothic Tales
  • The Three-Cornered World
  • The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories
  • The Paper Door and Other Stories
  • Fires on the Plain
  • Anthology of Japanese Literature: From the Earliest Era to the Mid-Nineteenth Century
  • The Wild Geese
  • Monkey Brain Sushi: New Tastes in Japanese Fiction
  • Masks
  • Japanese Tales of Mystery & Imagination
  • Beyond the Curve
  • On Parole
  • Acts of Worship: Seven Stories
  • Once and Forever
See similar books…
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 today.

Nobel Lecture: 1968
“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.” 151 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.” 23 likes
More quotes…