‘A Dark Night’s Passing’: Naoya Shiga sounds the depths of rootlessness

By Iain Maloney

It takes a brave writer to make their main character as unlikeable as Kensaku Tokito. It is even more startling because Naoya Shiga was consciously writing within the ‘I’ novel tradition, where the author deliberately draws on their life story for source material.

Initially serialized in the 1920s, “A Dark Night’s Passing” is a study of rootlessness. Kensaku is a dissolute literary man — a writer who spends more time in brothels than at his desk — who learns a dreadful secret about his birth. Given justification for his tendency toward self-destruction, he moves from Tokyo to Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture, before settling in Kyoto. He attempts to start a family, marrying Naoko and settling down. Read more

Source: The Japan Times


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