Cover image for The bomb
The bomb
Oda, Makoto, 1932-2007.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Hiroshima. English
First edition.
Publication Information:
Tokyo ; New York : Kodansha International, 1990.
General Note:
Translation of: Hiroshima.
Format :


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Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Published in Japan in 1984, antiwar and antinuclear activist Oda's novel, a bestseller in his native country, is more successful as a moral statement than as coherent fiction. The initial backdrop is a desert town during WW II where Native Americans are forced off sacred land so that the Army can develop a secret military project. Erratically depicting slices of life in New Mexico and Japan, Oda juxtaposes the ``Indians,'' ``niggers'' and ``Japs'' suffering wartime discrimination in White Sands with the victimized Americans and Koreans in Hiroshima after the bomb's explosion. A passionate call for human rights and justice, the novel incorporates the beauty of Indian legend and the poetry of apocalyptic destruction, but its loose structure is hard to follow, jumping from ``Jap'' internment camps to Pacific islands to cancer wards. The continuous introduction of new characters who never reappear and the surrealistic finale leave the reader floating in a confusing world of human cruelty, hope and destruction. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Modern humankind is unable to ignore the nagging presence of two events lurking in the corner--the Holocaust and Hiroshima--that suggest to us so vividly what we are capable of and what we must transcend in order to survive. The second of these events is the center around which this English-language debut of Makoto Oda revolves. Unfortunately, this work begs comparison with other work on the subject and falls far short. As fiction, it lacks the quiet poetry of Masuji Ibuse's Black Rain (1969), and as a didactic exercise it can't compare with Jonathan Schell's speculative The Fate of the Earth ( LJ 4/15/82). Both Ibuse and Schell grasp the fact that the event, simply described, is enough. Oda's work, in contrast, seems pedestrian, tired, murky, and without passion.-- Mark Woodhouse, Gannett-Tripp Lib., Elmira Coll., N.Y. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

The Bomb is the first full-length novel written by Japanese author and peace activist Oda Makoto to be translated into English. Originally titled Hiroshima and published in 1984, the novel pursues two main themes--racism and the horror of war. Oda presents a disturbing montage of settings, periods, and characters, shifting his narrative from the lives of whites and Native Americans living near an atomic test site in New Mexico in the early 1940s to the suffering of Japanese Americans in Japanese towns and cities as well as in US relocation centers following Pearl Harbor. His story includes Koreans under Japanese colonial rule, Japanese soldiers and civilians facing imminent defeat in 1945, and finally a surrealistic scene decades later in a hospital crammed with cancer patients of all races, victims of the Vietnam war and WW II. Oda links his diverse set of characters through the atomic tragedy at Hiroshima and in so doing decries racial hatred and warfare regardless of time or place. Recommended for general readers and libraries with collections of Japanese literature. -C. N. Canning, College of William and Mary

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