I read this book as part of the read-along organised by Tandem Collective who kindly gifted me a paperback copy. A group of us recently read the book over three days, stopping along the way to discuss. If you’d like to see what we discussed, you can catch up with the listen-along in my Instagram story highlights.
Over the course of his life, Mr Nishino falls hopelessly in love again and again. One woman is a colleague, another a chance encounter; one is the girlfriend of a classmate, another the best friend of Nishino’s latest conquest. Some are entranced by Nishino, others care more for their freedom, their children (or their cats).
As we come to learn of the torments, desires and delights of each woman, a portrait emerges of a complicated man whose great capacity for love may well be the cause of his downfall.
It’s been a while since I’ve read any Japanese literature so I jumped at the chance to read “The Ten Loves of Mr Nishino”. I missed out on a book club reading of it a few months ago and heard only good things and I’m so glad to say that I agree, this is a wonderful read.
Hiromi Kawakami tells the story of Mr Yukihiko Nishino at various points in this life through the eyes of ten women, his loves.
Nishino is a quirky character full of charisma and I have to say that I was rather fond of him at first. As each non-linear chapter goes by, we learn a little more about Nishino, his personality, his history, his quirks and his flaws and by the end we have a clear picture of his life.
“But, Nishino, you have lots of girlfriends and lovers, don’t you? Isn’t that your thing, knowing about girls? ”
I really enjoyed hearing about this character from so many points of view and it gave the book a real variety of stories and characters to enjoy. Nishino is a womaniser, but we can’t really work out why so many women are attracted to him. What is it that wins them over, especially when so many of them are aware that he’s two timing?!
“For one thing, Nishino was quite a handsome man. Secondly, he was clean-cut. Furthermore, Nishino was kind and courteous. And to top it all off, he had a steady job with a respectable company.”
The writing is typical of Japanese style, without frills or lengthy description and I relished every word. It’s slow going, but deliberately so with deep meaning within these pages. This is definitely a thought provoking read and I’ve been left thinking about it for a couple of days after finishing.
I also think that this book was translated particularly well and that’s proven by the fact that Allison Markin Powell won an award for her translation
I’ve got another Kawakami book on my shelf and I can’t wait to give it a read! This was really enjoyable!
Overall rating: “The Ten Loves of Mr Nishino” is another great piece of Japanese literature that I really enjoyed. This is another quirky romance by Hiromi Kawakami that’s unique, thought provoking and very well written – 5 stars!
See my other reviews of books by Hiromi Kawakami here: