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Like figures on a Japanese screen, the painter Masuji Ono and his daughters Setsuko and Noriko are fixed in the formal attitudes that even their private conversations reflect. In the postwar 1940, the father is a relic of traditional Japan, of teahouses, geishas and patterned gardens not yet destroyed by industry and Westernized thinking. He is unable to communicate with his daughters, unsure of the propriety of his wartime nationalism yet unwilling to exchange it for what seem to him doubtful modern values. His thoughts turn to the optimism of his student days, to uncertainties and disappointments that were mitigated by his sense of a prevailing order, now nowhere apparent. He cannot fathom why his daughters treat him with a disdain that approaches rudeness, why they imply that he and his kind were responsible for the war that killed so many sons, his own among them. And so, despite the rigidity of Ishiguro's prosewhich matches Ono's inflexibilitythe once famous artist gathers pathos as he moves through the pages of a novel that is both a reminder and a warning. Ishiguro wote A Pale View of Hills. (May 5) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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It is postwar Japan and a now retired and seemingly discredited painter, Sensei Ono, reflects on his career, the limits to loyalties between teachers and students, and the life of art. Occasions such as the forthcoming engagement of his daughter (which involves investigations into the family background) bring his involvement with the political campaigns of the prewar regime painfully to the fore of his consciousness. Should he have remained a traditional painter of the floating world of geishas, tea houses, and such? Do his high-minded intentions excuse his propaganda posters? Should an artist follow an aesthetic of pure art or of social involvement? How does a personor a societycome to terms with mistakes of the past? This new novel by the author of A Pale View of Hills will appeal to the thoughtful reader. Recommended. Carl Vogel, San Francisco P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
The betrayal of the promise of youth is recalled as a dishonored artist struggles with changing values in war-wrecked Japan.