Literature and War Readalong July 30 2012: Black Rain – Kuroi Ame by Masuji Ibuse

When I saw Black Rain mentioned by Gary (The Parrish Lantern) on Rise’s blog (in lieu of a field guide) last year, I knew I wanted to include this book in this year’s readalong. Last year we read Marguerite Duras’ Hiroshima Mon Amour and I’m really curious to find out how this horrible event will be treated by a Japanese author. John Hersey’s Hiroshima and Ibuse’s Black Rain are said to be the most important novels on the horror of Hiroshima.

Here are the first sentences

For several years past, Shigematsu Shizuma, of the village of Kobatake, had been aware of his niece Yasuko as a weight on his mind. What was worse, he had a presentiment that the weight was going to remain with him, unspeakably oppressive, for still more years to come.


The discussion starts on Monday, 30 July 2012.

Further information on the Literature and War Readalong 2012, including all the book blurbs, can be found here.

32 thoughts on “Literature and War Readalong July 30 2012: Black Rain – Kuroi Ame by Masuji Ibuse

  1. I might read this too – I’ve got it somewhere – but it can’t be till August, because I’m only reading Spanish things in July. I read a book of short stories by Ibuse a few years ago, Salamander and Other Stories, which I enjoyed (I only gave it 4, but I was a harsher marker back then, I think). In general, I tend not to like c20th Japanese writing.

    I’ve seen the film too.

    • It would of course be great if you would join the discussion at some point. I’ll still link your review to mine even if it comes much later.
      It’s a bit unfortunate as the August choice is by a Spanish author. If I had know in advance, I could have switched. On the other hand I was keen on kicking off the Japanese challenge which I’ve missed last year.
      I’m not sure I remember your rating.
      I wasn’t aware there was a movie.

  2. This looks like a serious book which will break one’s heart. I have not read any novels based on the Hiroshima bombing but I have read a manga comic on that called ‘Barefoot Gen’ by Keiji Nakazawa and it was quite heartbreaking. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on ‘Black Rain’. Happy reading, Caroline!

  3. I read Hershey’s “Hiroshima” several years ago. This is the stuff of nightmares.

    It might be a strange thing to reference here Caroline, but have you heard the song “I Come And Stand At Every Door” by the Byrds?. It is about a little girl who died in the Hiroshima bombing. For me it really reflects portrays a sense of desolation and despair reflected in the event. It might be interesting to listen to around the time one is reading a book like this.

    • Thanks, Brian, I wasn’t aware of the song – or maybe if I hear it I will remember. I often think of OMD’s Enola Gay in that context.
      I hope reading the book won’t affect me too much. It could.

  4. Sadly, I doubt I’ll be able to join in, much as I’d like to. One – I have a lot of review copies at the moment; and two – the Book Depository ran out of copies just as I was thinking about buying one…

    …I wonder if that’s your fault? 😉

    • That’s too bad.
      If it was my fault it would be great… I might have a lot of people joining.
      I wanted to offer a copy in a a giveaway but when I looked, there were no more copies avaliable.

  5. The library where I work has a copy of this, so it is sitting on my desk waiting for me to check it out. I’m a little nervous to read this as I know it is going to be hard going. I was hoping to have he Deighton finished before starting this, but now I’m not so sure that will happen. Two WWII novels on the go at once…I may need something really light as a balance!

  6. You know I’m reading along with you, Caroline, for the pleasure of sharing our thoughts as well as for my own Japanese Literature Challenge. I’m really looking forward to it! (I’ll be gone for two weeks in July, the twelveth through the twenty-first, but don’t worry, I’ll be back in time to post my review and visit others’.)

    • I’m very glad that you join and looking forward to the discussion. It’s maybe not the easiest choice but the Endo we read last year wasn’t easy either but all the more thought provoking.

      • Endo is never easy for me, but he’s also never forgettable. I’ll never forget Wonderful Fool and Silence, both of which took issues of Christianity and made them as contemporary as Jodi Picoult does with social issues today.

        I’ve just finished Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, which couldn’t hold a candle to Wonderful Fool in the Christ-like figures…

        • I wasn’t aware that he is a Christian before I read The Sea and Poison but meanwhile I have bought his book A Life of Jesus and am really keen on reading it.
          I’ve met quite a few African and Carribbean Christians and found it often amazing and interesting with how much freshness and candor they adopted, practiced and renewed the religion. I suppose someone with an Asian background would bring other elements into it which would be equally interesting to know.

  7. it’s TOO bad I can’t join this year’s challenge 😦
    I look forward to your review.

    I have seen a documentary of hiroshima and nagasaki, it was a really sad documentary.

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