Review of Death by Water by Kenzaburo Oe

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Rating 4 stars

Death by Water is the beautifully written new novel by Kenzaburo Oe (a Nobel Literature winner).  It features his returning character (and supposedly alter ego) Kogito Choko as he attempts to write his ‘drowning novel’.

The drowning novel is the story of Kogito’s father’s death.  He has been obsessed with writing it for 40 or 50 years but was forbidden by his family to do it.  He once sent his mother a 20 page draft and she locked it in the family’s red leather box, where it stayed until 10 years after his mother’s death.

I absolutely adored the writing style of Oe.  The characters felt real and human and incredibly interesting.  In the beginning, very little is given about the novel that Kogito wants to write, but we do know that he keeps thinking about it. It’s one of those books where little is revealed but you get to revel in the philosophical thought process of the protagonist.

Admittedly, there were parts that got a little bit dull (namely for me it was some scenes with the Caveman Theatre group), but for the most part, I was interested in the story, despite not being given a lot of detail.

I thoroughly enjoyed the discussions on mortality, the importance of family, the importance of the novel and so many other themes.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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