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Paradise in the Sea of Sorrow: Our Minamata Disease

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  42 ratings  ·  6 reviews
An account of Minamata disease, which struck a small Japanese fishing village due to methylmercury poisoning of the sea. Originally published in Japanese in 1972, with this translated edition published by Michigan University Classics in Japanese Studies in 2003 (notes by Livia Monnet).
Paperback, 416 pages
Published January 3rd 2003 by U of M Center For Japanese Studies (first published 1990)
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Jacob Wren
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Michiko Ishimure writes:

What kind of personality should a historian have or acquire in order to record this crime for posterity? What sources could grant him the strength of character, and the integrity needed in order not to be crushed by the load of the task, and by his consciousness of complicity? It will not suffice to say what Chisso did to those fisherman was just another form of ruthless oppression of the working classes by monopolistic capitalism. As a native of Minanmata, I know that
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: exam
A beautiful book with several key themes on the severe costs of Japanese postwar capitalism on human lives, and the moral decay of modern development and progress, indicative in the environmental (human and non-human) destruction caused by industrialization.

Other key points:
-the spiritual resources of the rural poor
-labor unions' reconciliation with capital, at the expense of the most harmed
-colonial legacies of Minamata's Chisso corporation, lack of remorse or sufficient compensation for
Apr 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Impressive not only for the information about mercury poisoning in Japan in the 1950s — a subject back in the mainstream since "The Cove" cam out — but also for the writing style. This is an early work of creative nonfiction or literary journalism comparable to works by Truman Capote or Gay Talese. Depressing subject matter, but amazing book.
Another book I abandoned. The issue is very interesting – mercury poisoning in Minamata in 1950s and the pursuit of compensation and lawsuit that dragged on for two decades – but they style of writing is hard for me to digest. Maybe I am new to Japanese style (but they said Ishimure Michiko used a different style from conservative writers so maybe I just cannot churn her style). The translator did quite a poor job too. I have seen this work by another translator and that translation, I believe, ...more
Apr 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Nobody browsing could possibly think to pick up this book without some sort of background knowledge. As readers, we are not commonly drawn to what we think to be another depressing ailment wafting from our toxic societies.

That is exactly why this book comes recommended - it is in fact what Paradise in the Sea of Sorrow is all about, and Minamata Disease's status as "another depressing ailment" is the piquantly disturbing reality that pollution does not manifest simply as a chip bag festering in
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very sad - and scary - so far. Don't get methyl mercury poisoning, you guys.
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Michiko Ishimure (石牟礼道子 Ishimure Michiko, born March 11, 1927) is a Japanese writer and activist.

In 1973 she won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for publicizing writings about the Minamata disease in Minamata.

(from Wikipedia)