Cover image for First snow on Fuji
First snow on Fuji
Kawabata, Yasunari, 1899-1972.
Uniform Title:
Fuji no hatsuyuki. English
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : Counterpoint, [1999]

Physical Description:
xiii, 227 pages ; 21 cm
This country, that country -- A row of trees -- Nature -- Raindrops -- Chrysanthemum in the rock -- First snow on Fuji -- Silence -- Her husband didn't -- Yumiura -- The boat-women.
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X Adult Fiction Central Library

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The stories of Yasunari Kawabata evoke an unmistakably Japanese atmosphere in their delicacy, understatement, and lyrical description. Like his later works, First Snow on Fuji is concerned with forms of presence and absence, with being, with memory and loss of memory, with not-knowing. Kawabata lets us slide into the lives of people who have been shattered by war, loss, and longing. These stories are beautiful and melancholy, filled with Kawabata's unerring vision of human psychology.

Author Notes

Author Yasunari Kawabata was born in Osaka, Japan on June 14, 1899. He experienced numerous family deaths during his childhood including his parents, a sister, and his grandparents. He graduated from the Tokyo Imperial University in March 1924. He wrote both short stories including The Dancing Girl of Izu and novels including The Sound of the Mountains, Snow Country, Thousand Cranes, and The Old Capital. In 1959, he received the Goethe Medal in Frankfurt and in 1968 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. He committed suicide on April 16, 1972.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Kawabata, the first Japanese writer to win a Nobel Prize, in 1968, is well known in the West for writing precise, sensuous, and richly detailed novels. Readers who are familiar with A Thousand Cranes (1958) and Snow Country (1956) will recognize Kawabata's signature style--lush descriptions of the beauty of the sensory world around him--in this collection of short stories about being and nothingness, memory and loss. For example, in the title story, "First Snow on Fuji," a recently divorced woman has a rendezvous with an ex-lover and reminisces about the past as they watch the year's first snowfall on Mount Fuji. The main character in "Silence" is a 66-year-old novelist who learns to write the final chapter of his life without words. "The Boat-Woman: A Dance-Drama" is a play--one of only two that Kawabata had ever written--set against the backdrop of the famous Tale of Genji. This collection of literary gems, published for the first time in English, was handpicked by Kawabata back in 1958 and showcases the literary master at the height of his power. --Veronica Scrol

Publisher's Weekly Review

Marking the 100th anniversary of Nobel Prize-winning Japanese novelist Kawabata's (Thousand Cranes) birth, this is the first English edition of these eight stories and one play, originally published in Japan in 1958. All are accomplished pieces written late in the author's career. In "This Country, That Country," a housewife named Takako hides a newspaper story on spouse-swapping, a subject of her fantasies, from her husband. The bond between desire and the act of hiding, the existential side of perversion, fascinates Kawabata. He composes his short fictions of seemingly disparate elements, leaving it to the reader to find the organic connection. On the way to visit a colleague and friend who can neither move nor speak after a stroke, the writer who narrates "Silence" hears from his taxi driver that the ghost of a beautiful woman has been appearing in cabs in the area. At the house of his friend, Omiya Akifusa, the narrator observes the strange attitude that Akifusa's daughter Tomiko has toward her bedridden fatherÄa mixture of love and spite. With "the voice of a woman in hell," Tomiko reveals that she may write about her father's many affairs, and the appalled narrator, who feels that Akifusa is now "a sort of living ghost," believes that Tomiko may have been "possessed by something in him." The cab driver on the way back tells the narrator that he is sitting next to the female ghost, although he doesn't see her. This Jamesian interplay between the limits of perception and the insufficiency of action is further explored in "Her Husband Didn't." Outside the bounds of decorum, the story's adulterous lovers are still baffled by the incommunicability of desire. Junji's fetish for earlobes and his disappointment with Kiriko's ears throw the couple's entire relationship off balance. For readers who have never read Kawabata, these short stories are an excellent place to start. First serial ("Her Husband Didn't") to Tin House. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In this first English rendering of nine short stories and one dance-drama published in 1958 by Nobel Prize winner Kawabata, the reader is quickly drawn into the lyrical sadness that pervades his writing. The stories in this collection focus on love, betrayal, writing, and reunion. One story revolves around an old man's scholarly yet intensely personal reflections on gravestones. A pair of stories ("This Country, That Country" and "Raindrops") view marriage in uniquely Japanese settings. Only the dance-drama, "The Boat-Women" is set in the past, following the tragic fate of some of the defeated Heike in the 12th century. Each story is evocative not only of the feelings set by the mood in the story, but also of postwar Japan. This collection of stories is essential reading for Kawabata fans or any lovers of the genre.ÄD.E. Perushek, Northwestern Univ. Lib., Evanston, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.