Tokyo, Japan: Kodansha International, Ltd, 1984. T. Miyashita (jacket design). First Edition (stated). Hardcover. This is Volume 1 of a 2 volume set issued by Kodansha, which contains Parts I and II of the original text, which was published in Japanese as Nireke no hitobito. Used - Fine. Clean, unmarked tight copy. Brown silk cloth boards, 'Well done' emblem blindstamped on front board, grey lettering on spine. Light bumping to top corners of boards. Light blue endpapers. Cloth bookmark sewn into binding. 16 x 22 cm. 519 pp. / Very Good/Fine. Light wear and scuffing. Spine is sunned/faded. Price clipped. Item #8164
Translated by Dennis Keene.
The House of Nire will come as a surprise to readers who expect a Japanese novel to be a mixture of gloom and sensitivity. This one is unashamedly comic, and its view of human life derives from a warm curiosity that accepts the world as it is and wastes no time complaining about it. Readers will feel themselves in the company of somebody who understands with intelligence, judges with generosity, and often, sometimes uproariously, laughs and enjoys. The book relates the history of the Nire family from the end of the First World War to the end of the Second. We meet Kiichiro Nire, founder not only of the family mental hospital but of the family itself, for he has changed their real name to something more sophisticated. Kiichiro, in all his vanity, selfishness, and absurdity, is one of the great comic creations of Japanese literature.
His children, adopted children, grandchildren, and any number of hangers-on including a friendly but flabby sumo wrestler whose career is going nowhere, form a cast of characters who, for all their oddities, tell us more about actual Japanese people and their lives than almost anything we have yet seen in English. And when, with the eventual fall of the House of Nire, the mood changes and the laughter dies away, one recognizes just how true to life this novel is and how involved in it one has become.