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3.48  ·  Rating details ·  648 ratings  ·  86 reviews
Beautifully spare and deeply strange, Dandelions—exploring love and madness—is Kawabata’s final novel, left incomplete when he committed suicide in April, 1972. The book concerns Ineko’s mother and Kuno, the young man who loves Ineko and wants to marry her. The two have left Ineko at the Ikuta Mental Hospital, which she has entered for treatment of a condition that might b ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published December 12th 2017 by New Directions (first published 1964)
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Average rating 3.48  · 
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J.M. Hushour
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Oddly, underlying the strengthened sense of her reality was at the same time an increased anxiety about the possibility that she was a fiction."

Kawabata's final, unfinished novel is a strange experience, like staring into the eye of a duck. That he never finished is both frustrating and intriguing, for in its unpolished form one can get a sense of what K's writing mechanism was and how much he stripped down initial drafts. I say this because the structure of "Dandelions" is very strange. It is,
Mar 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan, novel, final
World-famous as the first Japanese author awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1968, Yasunari Kawabata ( has since literarily been formidable to me with awe and respect; his fame encouraged me to find and read his own works including the other Japanese male and female authors' published short stories, novels, plays, etc. According to the list of his Selected Works on the cited website, only two of his novels remain unread, that is, The Scarlet Gang o ...more
Ivy-Mabel Fling
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As far as I can tell (because as yet I have only read two books by this author), nothing happens in Mr Kawabata's books. Still, they have something magnetic about them - the tense but polite atmosphere is probably what fascinates me most. Not to be recommended to those who are easily bored but quite amazing for those who are satisfied with discussions about who might be ringing the bell at the mental hospital. There is nothing strident or flamboyant about this book but I shall certainly be retur ...more
Jan 15, 2018 rated it liked it
"deeply strange" is correct. The novella is two people connected by an absent third, bound together by a few repeating symbols. A tree carving, a bell ringing, a man falling off a cliff on horseback. They are sort of motifs for the whole work.

It wasn't exactly my favorite Kawabata, but it was of the most interesting.
Jonathan yates
Dec 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a little piece of magic that will continue to make me believe in the power of literature to see the world as a bigger place. His attention to detail, both physical and emotional is unmatched.
James K
"Already, the sand at the river’s mouth had taken on the colors of a winter evening. Those birds that had flown noiselessly overhead were nowhere to be seen now, and the faint gray horizon was shrouded by a vague, madder red haze. Whether the sky had bled downward or the placid sea had risen was unclear; either way, there was no border. The meager flow of the river emptying into the ocean, too, was a dull, color."
Feb 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: japanese-fiction
Emmerich has made some nice contributions to English translation of Japanese prose and poetry, but this is not one of them. This translation feels overall too academic, inartful, and altogether untrue to the original. With Dandelions, there are too few things about which I'm happy that Emmerich does and too many things that he does with which I disagree.

In my view, the major flaw: One thing that I've always admired about Kawabata's writing is how seamlessly he can weave differing narrative point
Jan 16, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked this book, but it was not very easy to read. To read this is to listen to an ongoing circular conversation between 2 people over the course of a day, which is interesting because it made it so apparent that unlike many books, Kawabata captured beautifully what real conversation sounds like. It has the appearance of not being carefully constructed with a coherent narrative. Characters repeat themselves and argue the same topic while coming to different conclusions without acknowledging or ...more
Rasydan Fitri
Feb 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Seeing the world by not seeing. The essay at the end of this edition helped me a bit to understand - how, in a painting of Zen, the beauty is in the undrawn. Like a negative space where you see other things that is not there physically. Just silhouettes, like memories, or imagination. But you can picture the unseen clearly and beautifully.

A bit of work to read dialogues and go through the same points in circles, but as a whole it was good.
Apr 02, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very strange story, mostly based around dialogue that can be, at times, so far out of left field that you wonder why the characters are saying what they are. Not sure if this was down to awkward translating, cultural differences or the fact that it’s an unfinished novel. Some of the insights the characters make in the dialogue were quite sweet or philosophical, so it was still enjoyable.

Overall, I would say it reads more as a situation than a story.
Will E
Nov 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Too bad it was never finished. This is pretty great but is missing, not necessarily an ending, but some key piece to tie some really compelling threads together.
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Yasunari Kawabata’s DANDELIONS belongs to a rarified category of novels left uncompleted on account of their author’s suicide. Perhaps the most recent book of some note to occupy this category is David Foster Wallace’s THE PALE KING, an absolutely fascinating novel, perhaps my very favourite book by Wallace, which I suspect has failed to receive the full appreciation it merits on account of folks having decided that it is incomplete. This raises a number of questions, not the least of which pert ...more
Joyce Jojan
Not sure what quite to say about this odd book but I did enjoy it. It took me a while to get into because the conversation between Ineko’s mother and Kuno is quite slow in the beginning, the book opens up a lot of ideas about madness, death and imagined realities that are quite interesting to think about.

The book explores the intricacies of conversation in a really engaging manner - how two people can be involved in a conversation yet be completely distant from one another. In the beginning, bo
Pixi Jo
A strange book, very literally the conversation between a mother and the boyfriend of her daughter they have just left in an Asylum.
That's it.
And it ends just as abruptly.
Loose ends, we got them to spare!

I will say it is beautifully written and it is a strange story that keeps you reading even when you begin to, correctly, suspect it's going nowhere at speed.

I recommend it for folk who want to read something...completely different!
Ben Cooley
May 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Strange and splintered, this unfinished novel feels more like a loosely woven series of poems than a story. Even without closure, something still stays with you at the end.
Janaa Pearce
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
Peculiar writing, that is for sure. It is my first Japanese book, and based on other's comments, it may have been the wrong Kawabata to start with.

First of all, it seemed like there was a secret lingo that I was supposed to understand. There is a feeling that many things were left unsaid and it was unsettling.

There is a bunch of seemingly pointless dialogue between Ineko's mother and Ineko's fiance Mr. Kuno. Perhaps pointless, perhaps it was supposed to emphasize the obsession with routine and
Gabrielle Jarrett
The unfinished novel of Kawabata (2017 translation by Michael Emmerich) remained unfinished because Kawabata choose to end his life. Is Dandelions the reveal of his own struggle with his death? With his life? It is certainly a ping-pong game of the struggles of two protagonists, possibly imparting Kawabata's own struggle. The decision to suicide is very often a ping-pong debate. The two protagonists, Ineko's mother and Ineko's lover have just left the young woman Ineko in a clinic or treatment ...more
Thomas James
Dec 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably one of the most interesting and intriguing yet incredible and amazing books I’ve read. I’m not really sure how to conclude the book, I haven’t really got a clue what it means, there are loads of ideas running through my head as to what all the imagery and philosophising means. The white rat, the white dandelion, the white herons, the girl in the forest, the odd death of the father, the inability of Ineko to see her lovers body or a ping pong ball, the oddness of the mother coupled with ...more
Brooke Salaz
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Strange, unsettling, dark tale of a mother and her daughter's boyfriend dropping off the daughter at an insane asylum. After travelling to a sparingly described town by train whose defining feature is a profusion of dandelions, they reluctantly leave Ineko with the other 'lunatics' because of her increasing bouts of somagnosia where she will cease seeing the body of another. We only meet her through their reminiscences and thoughts about her for the few hours of the novel's duration from the dro ...more
Wolfe Tone
When I first heard this was coming out I did a little dance in the room. A new Kawabata!

Yasunari Kawabata is my absolute idol and is for me on a different level altogether from other authors. This is his final unfinished novel, though you wouldn't notice it but for a few minor temporal mistakes. Kawabata was a perfectionist and he worked on this novel on and off for almost a decade, as he did on most of his books: constantly editing.

This novel is beautifully written in Kawabata's typical poeti
Ro Ullrich
Dec 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Posthumously translated and published here in the States by Michael Emmerich, Dandelions wades in a fractured dream that's as mad as the plot.

The incompleteness is what made me enjoy it more thoroughly than I anticipated. The temporal hiccups, the dialogue centric writing, the brief pauses to remind us of the landscape of not only Ikuta, but of Ineko, her mother, her father and her lover, Kuno, give this short novel the hints of realism that are only capable through the rawness of this narrative
Apr 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not what I had expected. Although, I don't exactly know what I expected. An interesting conversation about our thoughts on our existence in this world. Identity. Point of view. It did have some typos in this edition, but all in all, it as stimulating.
Aug 21, 2018 rated it liked it
As a first Kawabata read, I think I've made the wrong choice according to other readers on here.

It's strange. It's metaphysical. It asks what it means to have a body and what it is to lose sight of things physical, metaphorically and and physically.

The story moves mostly through dialogue that remains colloquial. Same parts of old stories told between the husband and his mother-in-law will flow in and out and up again like how they happen in brunches or drunk murmurs in low key bars.

There are
Addison Hart
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"Tonight, in this tranquil town, even the ocean made no sound. You knew it was out there, yet you couldn't hear it."

I'm a sucker for Kawabata so I'm inclined to give this full marks despite its status as a work caught forever between stages of revision. It's certainly obscure and veers occasionally into overblown modernist dialogue, but these aspects, rather than being detrimental, support the overall mood of hovering just below the level of wakefulness, in a dream that moves along quietly with
Zahraa Mahdi
Dec 16, 2019 rated it liked it

This book is about Ineko the woman who has somagnosia (body blindness). She was unable to see part of things. Her problem started when she was playing a ping-pong ball. After that, she was placed in a psychiatric clinic. Sometimes she was unable to see the man who she loves as well. For this reason, he told her mother that her condition might be due to love. There were some missing parts of this story, especially in the end it is not complete.
Elena Varg
Apr 16, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I don’t know if this novel would’ve made me as emotional if I hadn’t midway through reading it realised it was the last book Kawabata wrote before commiting suicide. I don’t know why, but the knowledge of him dying right after this books publication really touched me. The novel itself was at parts interesting but it mostly felt very repetitive, not really going anywhere.
Jan 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
I had a difficult time feeling connected to this book. I struggled to understand any of the characters, who had very odd and specific ideas of what mental institutions are like. I constantly felt like I was missing something, and I'm not sure if it's a translation issue, or just a me problem.
Stephen Douglas Rowland
Some of the writing here is exceptional, as one would expect from Kawabata, but what little story it has is simply not that interesting and overly repetitive, ultimately coming to nothing (as one would, I suppose, expect from an unfinished work). For curious Kawabata fans only.
Milky Mixer
Feb 02, 2019 rated it liked it
This whole book is one long conversation between the mother and the lover of a woman they've deposited in a psychiatric clinic (she only appears in a flashback or as part of their conversation). Mildly interesting but definitely repetitious, with occasionally beautiful imagery.
Jul 07, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Highly sensual and often evocative, Dandelions nevertheless lacks the strong undercurrent of a binding spirituality that embody Kawabata's other works. At times it feels rambling and unfinished, although the strength of his natural imagery makes it a fairly good read all the same.
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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

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“The bonds between men and women predate language, and while the words we have used to express those ties may have grown exceptionally subtle and refined since language first arose, they are still just words. Words make our loves richer and more complicated, yes, but much has also been lost on their account - shrouded in the trappings of the age, drunk on the vacuity of artificial thrills. The progress of language is both a friend to love between the sexes and its enemy. Such love abides, it seems, in the mysterious depths where language cannot reach. Perhaps it's a slight exaggeration to say that the language of love is a stimulant, a drug; but whatever led us humans to create such a language , it was not life itself - which is the root of love - and therefore that language cannot engender the life that is the root of all else.” 2 likes
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