Antastesia's bookclub! discussion

No longer human (June)

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message 1: by Antastesia (new)

Antastesia | 55 comments Mod
Ok so for the month of June, we'll go with something very different.
Taxi was a short, fragmented book that resembled more a journalistic work than traditional literature, and was written by an egyptian author.
No longer Human is a japanese novel, and a huge classic of japanese literature. The experience will be completely different, and I am really excited to see what you guys think of this book!
As you know I love japanese litature, so it's always fascinating for me to know what other people might feel, think or experience while reading japanese books!
happy reading!

message 2: by Meg (new)

Meg | 1 comments I'm very excited to start reading this book, I saw this title the day you posted it on goodreads and thought to myself Dazai... this name sounds familiar, but quickly realized that, although i'm sure it's a coincidence, there's an anime currently running called 文豪ストレイドッグス (Bungo Stray Dogs) in which all the characters' names and their superpowers derive from famous Japanese literary figures and their most renowned literary works respectively, it just happens to be my favourite show this season, I noticed the one character mostly discussed on the show is Dazai and his ability ”人間失格“ (No longer human), then a Japanese co-worker of mine who's also an avid reader and an anime fanatic as me, let me in on the insights of the real Dazai's life and his influences, all is to say that you couldn't have picked a better book for this month! I'm looking forward to reading it as soon as the second-hand copy comes through by mail, thank you :)

message 3: by Amaani (new)

Amaani | 7 comments Hi,

So I feel so conflicted about this book. I wrote a review on my page about it more in-depth but I'll summarise here by saying that I felt like this was part of a pattern in Japanese Literature that I had noticed in that there was a young male protagonist who had a sense of loss and disconnection in his life.

And, for me, the style of the language used reminded me of 'Lolita' - the frank and unapologetic observations on the society and life that surrounds the protagonist.

The novel evoked the same emotions in me as 'Norwegian Wood' did - it will take me a while to get over this book.

message 4: by Mila (last edited Jul 01, 2016 01:47PM) (new)

Mila In my journey through "No longer Human" I went to see the most Japanese person I know to ask her about her own view. She was born in Tokyo and there she graduated from some Woman's college in the 80's. Ever since, she has been living in Argentina. She's not a reader but confirmed that this book is (or used to be at her time) compulsory reading in high school. Dazai would be their specimen of "left-wing" author, whereas Mishima is their "right-wing" author, like let's say Sartre and Céline for the French or Cortazar and Borges for the Argentinian.
Then she said that Dazai was weird, and for that matter, so was Mishima. Further on, I understood that, to her eyes, strictly anyone writing books was cursed with poor mental health, because she lumped all together authors as different as Camus, Wilde and Kundera, under the label "a bunch of weirdos".
Going back to Dazai, if his Marxist experience is any close to his character's, I don't think we can oppose it to Mishima's radical commitment on the other side. Yozo is not a Communist for ideological reasons: he commits to the movement out of mere masochism. He deliberately tries to get trapped in his position as an outcast.

My own feelings about the book were mixed. I found it to be flawed and I didn't like the style, but it kept me interested in some historical, cultural and maybe some pathological aspects too.
I cannot comment on the translation because the only thing my Japanese interviewee remembered, is that the original text was difficult. In the English translation anyway, the style is not graceful. It lacks fluidity and accuracy.
I also felt that the book was deceiving me, not in a good way. In spite of the style, I found the beginning to be rather intriguing and promising. It had a mysterious and dark aura. There was a lot of unspeakable horror, and also an untold traumatic event and I was expecting something between the Notes from the Underground and a Beckettian novel. And then it turned out to be a much more conventional account of the struggle of an angst-ridden young man to exist within society. I sensed that the aphorisms about life, society or sin were more like springboards to serve a class-discussion than substantial worlds of meaning in themselves.

There is also an aspect I strongly dislike: in my opinion the text makes clear that the gloomy self-indulgence that pervades Yozo can be attributed to Dazai and everyone knows anyway that "No longer Human" is considerably autobiographical. I need to find lucidity and courage to fall in love with a book.

message 5: by nicole (new)

nicole (ladynicole) | 4 comments I'm very disappointed that I won't be reading this book, as I tend to read all of my books via kindle loan through my library. I asked if they would purchase this book, but they've declined. Based on your reviews, I may consider buying the book.
I saw Anastesia say on YouTube that she will be gone, for roughly a month from social media, due to poor Internet in Malaysia, so I assume we won't get a different July book selection, until her return. Hopefully my library carries it!
Thanks for the reviews!

message 6: by Amaani (new)

Amaani | 7 comments Mila wrote: "In my journey through "No longer Human" I went to see the most Japanese person I know to ask her about her own view. She was born in Tokyo and there she graduated from some Woman's college in the 8..."

This is a very interesting and detailed review. I agree with what you said about the beginning being deceiving - I had felt that too but hadn't been able to pinpoint it exactly myself.

message 7: by Antastesia (new)

Antastesia | 55 comments Mod
Hey you lovely people, I am so very sorry that I haven't been keeping up with the bookclub for the month of July...
As you probably know I have travelled for 3weeks and I'm going through tough stuff right now... My grandmother had a stroke, was in a state of coma for a few days and even though she has woken up, she cannot communicate with us at all... A few other things are on my mind too... But I'm getting back on track and I seriously love and value this bookclub, and I want to keep it up.
So I'll be writing my review as well very soon.
And we'll start with another book in September, because I don't think I can do it for August. But thank you so much to all of you for sticking around, and let's all read together in September!
much love to you!x

message 8: by Amaani (new)

Amaani | 7 comments Antastesia wrote: "Hey you lovely people, I am so very sorry that I haven't been keeping up with the bookclub for the month of July...
As you probably know I have travelled for 3weeks and I'm going through tough stuf..."

Take your time! Sending love x

message 9: by nicole (new)

nicole (ladynicole) | 4 comments Sending you lots of love

message 10: by Mila (new)

Mila I am more than anxious to read your thoughts on Dazai, since he seems to need a defence attorney on that case.
But most definitely, take your time!

message 11: by Emanuel (new)

Emanuel | 3 comments I am very happy to have read this book. Although I had trouble to get my hands on it when I finally did I devoured it.

As some of you have pointed out this book is probably very similar in topic (and perhaps ideology) to various other authors, however I believe that to be something good rather than a flaw.
The struggles that living in society represents are one of those things that will never cease to exist, with that in mind I think a lot of people can benefit from reading about someone who feels as they do even if it's not exactly the same in every aspect and thought.
I also felt that the objective of the book was not to become a best seller or to be classified as THE work of art. Considering the way it's written (as if it were notebooks someone found) I have the impression the author just wanted to leave a record of his thoughts on such personal and complicated matters and that's honestly why I liked it.

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