Stephen Hayes's Reviews > Black Rain

Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse
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it was amazing
bookshelves: fiction-general, historical-novel, tshwane-library

A novel that tells how one family coped with the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945.

Shigematsu Sizuma, as guardian of his niece Yasuko, is concerned that rumours that she suffered from radiation sickness might harm her prospects of marriage. He decides to transcribe both Yasuko's and his own diaries of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, with a connecting narrative, to show potential suitors that she was out of town at the time the bomb fell. The result is an account of the nine days between the dropping of the bomb and the end of the war,

Shigematsu describes what he and his family saw and did in those nine days, supplemented with accounts from other people's diaries. It is a sober and sobering account of the effects of a nuclear bomb on a city. Though it is published as a novel, it reads like a historical documentary. Perhaps it was based on actual diaries, with a few names and places changed.

Shigematsu was at a station waiting for a train to take him to work when the bomb fell, and was slightly injured by the blast. He walked home to find what had happened to his family, and encountered many injured refugees fleeing from the city, where fires were spreading rapidly.

Novels about disasters often have a kind of survivalist theme. The disaster causes a total breakdown of societal cohesion and law and order, and the protagonist is usually trying to save a small group from the general disorder. The overwhelming impression in this book, however, is the spirit of "Keep calm and carry on". Mr Shizuma and his family go to stay at a house near the factory where he works, after their own house burns down, and he then carries on trying to procure coal to keep production in the factory going. There a strong sense of discipline in the face of disaster.

The events are not overdramatised, but are told in an almost scientific way, trying to describe as exactly as possible the impressions what had taken place.

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Reading Progress

September 16, 2019 – Started Reading
September 16, 2019 – Shelved
September 16, 2019 –
page 34
September 20, 2019 – Shelved as: fiction-general
September 20, 2019 – Shelved as: historical-novel
September 20, 2019 – Shelved as: tshwane-library
September 20, 2019 – Finished Reading

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