Book Review: Quicksand by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, Howard Hibbett (Translator)

"A person's face is supposed to reflect what he feels in his heart..."

--Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, Quicksand

A tale of sensual gamesmanship and passion by one of the best authors of twentieth-century Japan is silkily nuanced. The voice is that of Sonoko Kakiuchi, an educated, clever, and slightly coquettish Osaka lady who is married to a very respectable lawyer. Manji, the first edition of Quicksand by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, was released in Japan. Between 1928 and 1930, it was published in serial form for the journal Kaiz. 

Synopsis from Publisher's Weekly...

Sonoko Kakiuchi, the bored and willful upper-class wife of an Osaka lawyer, recounts the story of her desperate love in the year 1927 for a willowy young woman named Mitsuko. When Sonoko discovers the presence in Mitsuko's life of a man, the elusive Watanuki, she is surprised by enormous feelings of jealousy and soon finds herself ``sinking deeper and deeper into the quicksand'' of the couple's lies. 

My review of this novel...

I have no idea how I came into possession of this book. Without reading the blurb, I simply began to read it, and I found myself becoming quite engaged and interested as I did. This novel begins with sensual torture and gradually progresses into perverse mania and mental obscenity. It depicts fixation psychologically. I believed the author did the finest job of addressing a fixation with dysfunctional relationships in this book. The two female protagonist characters are both dark and insane; they lack morals and are both cunning and dubious. As I read the book, I am unsure of what parts of the story are real and which are lies. This book captivated me from the first sentence and didn't let go until I turned the final page.

The title for me is quite right, and I had a wonderful time reading this intriguing, thought-provoking, albeit subtly repugnant book. This weird yet entertaining short story of four characters who lie to and manipulate one another are totally insane. In a lighthearted and entertaining way, each character is unlikeable, and as the story progresses, the things they do and say to one another become increasingly abusive. You are dragged in slowly and sneakily until you are trapped and you cannot escape until the psychological explosion went off and you, in a darkly fascinated manner, want to see who survives the wreckage.

I also noticed that the chapters of the book were also quite brief, which contributed to its quick pace and psychological effects. Despite the fact that the relationships in this novel are poisonous to the core, I still find it to be a delight to read. In spite that the novel is relatively old, the sexuality of the characters is an important topic that is never treated in a judgmental manner. I really appreciate this strategy of downplaying sexuality.

For me, though this book is somewhat challenging, I truly appreciate reading it. Therefore, if you want to read this book, you must cast aside your moral concerns and if you are unable to observe the world from an unbiased stance, you are unlikely to enjoy this kind of book. In this, we can see how existence, society, norms, relationships, biases, and so on might bring out the worst in a person and the only method for escaping that situation is to attach to that sentiment that is comparable to passion and most of all a sensation of love and being loved. Overall, the book portrays the horrible human emotions when the fundamental tendencies are seeping out. Although it is completely insane, the novel is nonetheless wonderful.

My Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐(4/5)


Disclaimer: Booksreadbyhannel is not a business website. The opinions expressed here are unbiased and based only on my own feelings and reactions while reading the books I featured here in my blog. My reviews reflect my utmost sincerity. I paid for the books I review here out of my own pocket. Books provided by authors and publishers are otherwise specified.