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The sounds of the mountains - A review

Goodreads and some bloggers have been very kind to me for recommending good books, great books. The last thing I like to do is to quit on a book and good suggestions help me not do the tragic break up. If you happen to look at the ratings I have been giving to the read books, then you would think that I am a liberal reader who likes anything he reads and do not hesitate to give a good rating. But that is because thankfully I come across very good books.

A fortnight ago, Goodreads sent me a recommendation of a Japanese Novel. The cover of the book attracted me immediately. Having an experience of watching Japanese anime and some movies, I had no doubt that it would be a good novel. Amazon India has kept a stock of the same novel, obviously the translated one. I think it was a good deal for Amazon to buy Goodreads! They are soaring very high with great collection of books, cheaper e books and how can I not mention the amazing Kindles.

The book that I am talking about, the Japanese novel, is The sound of Mountain by Yasunari Kawabata. If the translation of the novel brings out this beautiful poetry, then I wonder what a pleasure it would give to someone who can read Japanese.

I have come across very very few books which are poignant, elegant, poetic, peaceful, philosophical, metaphorical, allegorical, meditative, contemplative and emotional at the same time. I lack a huge collection of vocabulary, else I would have described it even better. That is the extent of beauty the book has within itself.

No, the book doesn't have any plot. It definitely is not driven on the highway with a fast paced page turning plot. It doesn't have any headlight which would make you look at what lies ahead on the road. It has a torch light with a very small range, enough to make you appreciate the fields with trees, shrubs, birds, mountains and their songs, up close and personal.

The story unfolds with a scene where an old man in the age of mid sixties sits quietly in a room with a soothing expression tainted with a mild trouble which comes because of his inability to recall the name of the maid who left their home. The novel then through the description of the garden, flowers, wind, weather, vibrant colors of the nature shows us the son of that old man who helps him remember the name he had just forgotten.

Although it lacks a plot, it has abundance of emotions. The emotions of the old man with a failing memory, with recurrent dreams of death and sexual tensions coupled with the struggles of his day to day life through the events of his son, daughter, wife and his favorite partner of the dawn- the beautiful and slender daughter in law.

If you can imagine a person using some colors as the emotions of the old man and some other colors as the nature of his surroundings to paint a beautiful picture, then that picture would be this novel.

The old man is shown to have frequent memory lapses yet tormented with dreams. So much do the dreams trouble him that he wishes his brain to be given to some laundry service which specializes in cleaning the fogs of his troubled mind while he sleeps without the torments of dreadful and lamentable dreams.

It is in his dreams where the author brings in a rich imagery of metaphors. Only a reader can grasp the beauty of the interpretation of his dreams but never can a writer give accurate explanations to those metaphors.

To give you an idea of how beautiful is the novel, let me show you the titles of some of the chapters of the novel - The sound of the mountains.

Here are some of the titles : 
  • The wings of the locust
  • A blaze of clouds
  • The chestnuts
  • The cherry in the winter
  • Water in the morning
  • The voice at night

Aren't the titles poetic in itself? And do trust me when I say the title gives the essence of the background given in that chapter. For example, in the chapter The cherry in the winter, the events in the old man's life happened in the background music of the colorful cherries in the winter! Yes, I would term it as the background music as it doesn't interfere with the actual story but adds depth to the same.

If you are in a mood to enjoy a quiet evening or a morning with no hurry at the back of your mind, with a beautiful weather in your surroundings, then this, my friend, is a novel for that occasion.

My rating: 5/5.


  1. I want to read this book. Your review has whetted my curiosity and interest in Kawabata.

    1. I am certain that you will find it beautiful, perhaps more than what I have.

      Also, I would love to have book suggestions similar to this one, if you know of other authors like Kawabata.

  2. From your review it seems the book is worth reading. Thanks for the suggestion.

    1. It is indeed a book worth reading. If you are the one who appreciate the literary aspects of a book more than the plot, then this book can just gratify your desires for that.

  3. I am absolutely convinced! I would love to pick this book up.

    1. I would love to read a review from your side whenever you pick up this book. Thanks Arti.


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