When Japanese Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe’s latest novel, Sui Shi (Death by Water), was released in Chinese in mid-July by Gold Wall Press, the novel caused a buzz among Chinese writers and critics, being an unusually difficult read.
Writer Yan Lianke, one of Oe’s faithful readers, says he spent one day finishing Oe’s award-winning The Silent Cry and two days on The Beautiful Annabel Lee Was Chilled and Killed, whereas in the three days he saved for Sui Shi, he was only able to finish half.
“The difficulty lies in Oe’s complex structure,” Yan says.
“It’s also interesting to note that as Oe reached more maturity in the latter half of his career, he worked even harder to add profundity of his writing,” he says. “He won’t simply let things go.”
The novel was conceived in court as he was defending an accusation of libel against him.