Originally published in 1995 and now available in paperback, a reflection on the total effects of the Hiroshima bombing on the Japanese people.
Reissued with a new introduction by the author for the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Nobel Prize winner Oe's 1963-5 ruminations on the Atomic Age are still timely. This collection of essays was first published at a time when Oe "felt that my career as a writer had reached a stalemate," shortly after the birth of his severely retarded son; visiting Hiroshima, he underwent what Oe himself describes as a conversion experience and found new purpose to his career and the strength to deal with his son's medical problems. As he recounts his first trip to Hiroshima, to cover the Ninth World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs in 1963, Oe contrasts with dry, understated irony the difficult, painful work of the self-effacing men and women of the medical teams working at Hiroshima with the pettiness of the political squabbles that threatened the conference. Unfortunately, the pieces that follow the initial essay, with Oe returning again to the city, become repetitive and even, regrettably, a bit dull. Moreover, the book needs a more comprehensive update than Oe's brief introduction provides. Disappointing overall, considering who the author is, but the first essay in the collection is essential reading. (Kirkus Reviews)