I finished 推し、燃ゆ.
It was short, but very densely written and oftentimes difficult to comprehend, so my progress was significantly slower compared to other books I read. Probably comparable to 人間失格, 風立ちぬ, and 貝に続く場所にて.
It’s about a 16 year old high school girl whose live revolves entirely about her 推し, her idol and object of adoration. She can’t keep up with school – even dropping out at some point – and is constantly criticized by her mother and sister. But she is unable to comprehend how to live a normal life or become “an adult”. (なぜあたしは普通に、生活できないのだろう。人間の最低限度の生活が、ままならないのだろう。)
It is mentioned that she was diagnosed with a condition known under two names, though it is never specified. A blog article I read talks about a development disorder and mentions both autism and ADHS. Both would make sense.
In that sense, this books definitely does feel similar to コンビニ人間, although the perspective is quite different. However, compared to コンビニ人間 which was very straightforward to read, 推し、燃ゆ is written in a much more roundabout way, using flowery language and imagery characteristc of 純文学 (belles-lettres). Meaning, you will probably need to reread sentences a lot to really comprehend their meaning.
I personally didn’t feel like I really “got” what the book wanted to tell me, especially because the last scene is particularly roundabout. After reading a few articles that explain the themes of the book, I think I got the gist, but it feels like there’s a lot I’m still missing.
So was it an interesting read? Definitely. Did I enjoy it? I’m inclinded to say no for the reasons stated above. Although I can emphasize with the themes in a broader sense, the style of narration was a bit too detached from reality (or: my reality) to make me feel much. I think I’d need to dig a bit deeper still to understand why it got that kind of reception and recognition in Japan.
P.S. Made me feel very old when I read the author was born in 1999.
P.P.S. I really dig the cover art, though.
Next on my list: Nahoko Uehashi’s biographic 物語ること、生きること.
It is not actually written by her, but based on four long interviews conducted for this book after she had finished 守り人 and 獣の奏者. I always felt like Uehashi’s background in anthropology could be felt keenly in her works and I’m very curious to learn more about her background as a writer. So far it’s very interesting to read.