Book Review – The Makioka Sisters (細雪) by Junichiro Tanizaki

A capturing in words of a lost way of life, as well as the struggles and serenity unique to it.
The Makioka Sisters unfolds gently like a bud on a tree. Tanizaki tells these women’s stories in thoughtful, observant prose while making no assumptions of the reader, creating a beautiful but isolated world with a tinge of sadness to its edges.

You have to be prepared with patience for this drama, as it is slow-paced, but that doesn’t detract from its admirable beauty as a piece of fiction. It is a glimpse into historical Japan through the eyes of someone who recalls it both fondly and longingly, who laments the problems of the era but not quite as much as the encroaching issues of modern times.

In retrospect, a wistful family drama is sort of unusual for Tanizaki, who is known for decadent, semi-erotic works. You can still tell his distinct style apart from other writers, though. His writing pattern is that of an artist who cautiously, patiently translates his dreams from his mind onto paper.

I highly recommend to anyone interested in the pre-WWII culture of Japan and those who love historical fiction.

General – 4.5/5

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