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Oh, Tama!: A Mejiro Novel de Mieko Kanai
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Oh, Tama!: A Mejiro Novel (edició 2019)

de Mieko Kanai (Autor), Tomoko Aoyama (Traductor), Paul McCarthy (Traductor)

Sèrie: Mejiro Series (2)

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
2712683,720 (2.63)8
Oh, Tama! takes the reader deep into the haphazard lives of Natsuyuki, the protagonist, and his loosely connected circle of dysfunctional acquaintances and family. Trying to keep some semblance of order and decency in his life, working as an occasional freelance photographer, Natsuyuki is visited by his delinquent friend Alexandre, who unexpectedly entrusts him with his sister's pregnant cat, Tama. Despite his initial protests, Natsuyuki accepts his new responsibility and cares compassionately for Tama and her kittens. Half-sister Tsuneko, meanwhile, is herself pregnant by one of several lovers, all patrons of the bar she runs. She contacts three of them, claiming each to be the father, and demands money. One of these is Fuyuhiko, the older half-brother of Natsuyuki, although he is not aware of this fact. When Fuyuhiko comes to Tokyo in search of Tsuneko, he gravitates to Natsuyuki's apartment, where he and Alexandre move in with the weak-willed Natsuyuki. Awarded the Women's Literature Prize in Japan, Oh, Tama! is the second book in the Mejiro Series, named after the area of Tokyo between the mega-towns of Shinjuku and Ikebukuro. The main characters (not to mention the author and her artist sister Kanai Kumiko) all live in this area. Most of the main characters in one book appear as side characters in the others. Natsuyuki and Alexandre, for example, appear in the third work in the series, Indian Summer. The protagonists of that book-Momoko, Hanako and Momoko's writer-aunt-all appear first in Oh, Tama!. These Mejiro texts are full of humor and irony. While earlier works of Kanai are noted for their surrealistic, sensuous and poetic style and arresting, at times violent themes, the Mejiro novels focus on the human comedy in the seemingly mundane, actual world. The protagonists of the series are, however, in one way or another engaged in creative or intellectual activities, even though they are often unemployed or at loose ends. While a few of the author's short stories, poems, and excerpts from her longer works were translated into English beginning in the late 1970's, and attracted some attention among feminist literary scholars, this is only the third book-length English translation of her work, following The Word Book and Indian Summer.… (més)
Membre:Alan.M
Títol:Oh, Tama!: A Mejiro Novel
Autors:Mieko Kanai (Autor)
Altres autors:Tomoko Aoyama (Traductor), Paul McCarthy (Traductor)
Informació:Stone Bridge Press (2019), Edition: Translation, 184 pages
Col·leccions:Read, La teva biblioteca
Valoració:****
Etiquetes:No n'hi ha cap

Detalls de l'obra

Oh, Tama! de Mieko Kanai

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Es mostren 1-5 de 13 (següent | mostra-les totes)
It is always interesting to see what sorts of books capture the imagination of people in other countries. Best sellers and prize winners aren't always translated into English so those of us who do not read in another language don't have access to them or the insights they might give about the culture out of which they sprang. So it's always cause for curiosity when something relatively celebrated is finally translated. Mieko Kanai's Oh, Tama! is one such book. Written in 1986-7 as short pieces for magazines and then published as a complete novel, this is the second of the Mejiro novels (named for the neighborhood in which the books are set) and it won the Women's Literature Award in 1998. There is something ineffably foreign about it, a tone or construction, or focus, it is unmistakably Japanese.

Tama the cat is pregnant and her owner, Tsuneko, is also pregnant. As Tsuneko has intentionally disappeared, someone must care for Tama as she waits for her kittens. Alexandre, Tsuneko's mixed race half-brother, a model and sometime porn star, takes the cat to his friend Natsuyuki's home with the intention of leaving her there with the currently unemployed freelance photographer. Complicating matters is the fact that Natsuyuki could potentially be the father of Tsuneko's unborn child. But he's not the only one. In fact, his long-lost older brother, Fuyuhiko, who he only meets as a result of the situation, could also be the baby's father. Sounds complicated and bananas, right? The mystery of where Tsuneko, who has asked the potential father candidates for money, has disappeared to is not even really at issue here in this essentially plotless novel. The bulk of the story is taken up by Natsuyuki's dysfunctional friends and brother moving in and out of his house while Tama observes their philosophical discussions and bewildering behaviour.

The novel has, perhaps, far more of a Japanese sensibility than I understand from my own cultural vantage point. And without the cultural frame of reference that its original audience had, I entirely missed the allusions and parodies. The characters are quirky but aimless and I felt swamped by the slow moving, meandering story. I completely missed the humor that is supposed to be abundant here and am not sure if it is dependent on knowledge of the area in Tokyo where Natsuyuki lives or on an understanding of their generation within Japan or something else entirely. Even situations that are important and life-altering, like the revelation of Fuyuhiko as Natsuyuki's brother, are relayed with flat affect and treated as fairly unremarkable. Even Natsuyuki's mother dismisses the discovery of her oldest son by her youngest as unimportant. Baffling for sure. This has the feel of a stage play with its constant comings and goings and swirling conversations over art and literature, photography and film, fashion and cats. Those who have a deeper appreciation for Japanese literature than I do will likely enjoy reading this brief, almost absurdist novel more than I did. ( )
  whitreidtan | Sep 19, 2019 |
This offbeat, quirky little novel from Mieko Kanai is certainly one to enjoy, especially for fans of Japanese literature. Indeed, those who are familiar with some of the great ‘cat’ literature of the 20th century, or anyone who has read a lot of Japanese authors, will recognise the style and themes of the book which, superficially, can be quite hard to completely get a grasp of for the uninitiated.

Natsuyuki Kanemitsu, a freelance photographer, lives a quiet enough life but it is soon interrupted by the arrival of his friend Alexandre (real name Kanemitsu) who announces that his sister Tsuneko is pregnant and that there are several possible fathers – one of whom, perhaps, is Natsuyuki himself. Alexandre also brings with him the eponymous hero of our tale, the heavily-pregnant Tama, and leaves the cat with Natsuyuki. And that’s pretty much it, plot-wise. There appears another character called Fuyuhiko, a friend of Alexandre’s who, as it happens, is Natsuyuki’s half-brother, and who may also be the father of Tsuneko’s child. As is the case in much of the Japanese literature I have read, the pace is slow, the main focus is on dialogue and scene-setting, on the quiet unravelling of themes and ideas which, in the case of ‘Oh, Tama!’, rely a lot on coincidence. There is much discussion and reference to literature and film, art theory and fashion, and always in the background is Tama, having had her kittens and caring for them in Natsuyuki’s wardrobe, watching from the side-lines at the eccentricities of the human race!

Without over-playing the parallels, there is obviously the comparison between Tsuneko and Tama, between the human and the animal world and our attitude to sex and relationships. There is a lot of humour and almost farcical plot developments as all of the characters arrive at and leave Natsuyuki’s small apartment. It is a little gem of a book that will stand up to multiple re-readings to tease out the subtlety of the writing. If you are looking for a fast-paced page-turner, a thrill a minute ride, then this is not for you. If you are looking for a quiet, eccentric little book and have a penchant for Japan and Japanese literature, then this should definitely be on your reading list. ( )
  Alan.M | Apr 19, 2019 |
This offbeat, quirky little novel from Mieko Kanai is certainly one to enjoy, especially for fans of Japanese literature. Indeed, those who are familiar with some of the great ‘cat’ literature of the 20th century, or anyone who has read a lot of Japanese authors, will recognise the style and themes of the book which, superficially, can be quite hard to completely get a grasp of for the uninitiated.

Natsuyuki Kanemitsu, a freelance photographer, lives a quiet enough life but it is soon interrupted by the arrival of his friend Alexandre (real name Kanemitsu) who announces that his sister Tsuneko is pregnant and that there are several possible fathers – one of whom, perhaps, is Natsuyuki himself. Alexandre also brings with him the eponymous hero of our tale, the heavily-pregnant Tama, and leaves the cat with Natsuyuki. And that’s pretty much it, plot-wise. There appears another character called Fuyuhiko, a friend of Alexandre’s who, as it happens, is Natsuyuki’s half-brother, and who may also be the father of Tsuneko’s child. As is the case in much of the Japanese literature I have read, the pace is slow, the main focus is on dialogue and scene-setting, on the quiet unravelling of themes and ideas which, in the case of ‘Oh, Tama!’, rely a lot on coincidence. There is much discussion and reference to literature and film, art theory and fashion, and always in the background is Tama, having had her kittens and caring for them in Natsuyuki’s wardrobe, watching from the side-lines at the eccentricities of the human race!

Without over-playing the parallels, there is obviously the comparison between Tsuneko and Tama, between the human and the animal world and our attitude to sex and relationships. There is a lot of humour and almost farcical plot developments as all of the characters arrive at and leave Natsuyuki’s small apartment. It is a little gem of a book that will stand up to multiple re-readings to tease out the subtlety of the writing. If you are looking for a fast-paced page-turner, a thrill a minute ride, then this is not for you. If you are looking for a quiet, eccentric little book and have a penchant for Japan and Japanese literature, then this should definitely be on your reading list. ( )
  Alan.M | Apr 19, 2019 |
Ressenya escrita per a Crítics Matiners de LibraryThing .
What a pity. I, like other Early Reviewers, was really looking forward to reading this as the description sounded fun, interesting and just my kind of thing. Sadly a far too literal translation has resulted in a disjointed, difficult to read and consequently unenjoyable text. I was about a third of the way through when I put it aside as it was so unpleasant a read as to not be worth the struggle. That was something like six months ago and I have to admit to myself that I'm not going to make it to the end. ( )
  Vivl | Sep 12, 2014 |
Ressenya escrita per a Crítics Matiners de LibraryThing .
Oh, Tama! took me a while to read, even though I really enjoyed it. It's not that it's difficult or anything, it's just that it's sort of slow and contemplative without a lot of urgency to it. I would pick it up and read a little bit, and thoroughly love that bit, then find that when I walked away, I didn't really have a feeling of Must Finish ASAP, even as I kept it in my thoughts and looked forward to picking it up again.

That might be a good or bad thing for other readers, but for me - sometimes a quiet slice-of-life story that meanders along is exactly what I'm in the mood for, and I enjoyed this one.

I liked the narrator, Natsuyuki, quite a bit. He's an interesting guy who can't exactly be trusted - he takes pains to avoid bothersome things when possible (or so he claims), and has a rather haphazard, lackadaisical way of narrating the story, as though it's all a bit too much effort sometimes.

The story itself is about Tama, a pregnant cat foisted upon him by the brother of a woman he slept with once. Or maybe it isn't really about Tama, but she's the linchpin that pulls it all together - explorations of motherhood and family, about sex and relationships and desire. There's also an element of obligation - of what one owes to others for one reason or another.

I'm not sure I'm the best reviewer for Oh, Tama!, but I liked it a lot. The language and imagery are strongly evocative, and I love Natsuyuki's narration - he is a vivid character at least in part because of his contradictions. ( )
1 vota keristars | Jun 6, 2014 |
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Oh, Tama! takes the reader deep into the haphazard lives of Natsuyuki, the protagonist, and his loosely connected circle of dysfunctional acquaintances and family. Trying to keep some semblance of order and decency in his life, working as an occasional freelance photographer, Natsuyuki is visited by his delinquent friend Alexandre, who unexpectedly entrusts him with his sister's pregnant cat, Tama. Despite his initial protests, Natsuyuki accepts his new responsibility and cares compassionately for Tama and her kittens. Half-sister Tsuneko, meanwhile, is herself pregnant by one of several lovers, all patrons of the bar she runs. She contacts three of them, claiming each to be the father, and demands money. One of these is Fuyuhiko, the older half-brother of Natsuyuki, although he is not aware of this fact. When Fuyuhiko comes to Tokyo in search of Tsuneko, he gravitates to Natsuyuki's apartment, where he and Alexandre move in with the weak-willed Natsuyuki. Awarded the Women's Literature Prize in Japan, Oh, Tama! is the second book in the Mejiro Series, named after the area of Tokyo between the mega-towns of Shinjuku and Ikebukuro. The main characters (not to mention the author and her artist sister Kanai Kumiko) all live in this area. Most of the main characters in one book appear as side characters in the others. Natsuyuki and Alexandre, for example, appear in the third work in the series, Indian Summer. The protagonists of that book-Momoko, Hanako and Momoko's writer-aunt-all appear first in Oh, Tama!. These Mejiro texts are full of humor and irony. While earlier works of Kanai are noted for their surrealistic, sensuous and poetic style and arresting, at times violent themes, the Mejiro novels focus on the human comedy in the seemingly mundane, actual world. The protagonists of the series are, however, in one way or another engaged in creative or intellectual activities, even though they are often unemployed or at loose ends. While a few of the author's short stories, poems, and excerpts from her longer works were translated into English beginning in the late 1970's, and attracted some attention among feminist literary scholars, this is only the third book-length English translation of her work, following The Word Book and Indian Summer.

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