I finally finished 貝に続く場所にて! Only took me what, about 7 months?
I really don’t know what to say about this book except that I never really knew what it wanted to tell me. It’s about a Japanese woman from Sendai living in Göttingen, Germany where she encounters the ghost of an old acquaintance who passed away during the March 2011 tsunami.
From there one her memories interweave with the townscape, sculptures of planets, art history, religious figures, the ghosts of other people. There’s a truffle dog who digs up objects that hold a special place in people’s memories and the entire book is full of symbolism and never really states anything in clear words.
I’ve read other books where I enjoyed the poetic, kinda flowery language (風立ちぬ comes to mind), but here I just had no clue what I was even reading for paragraphs on end. It wasn’t a vocabulary problem and probably also not a language problem first and foremost. I think could’ve gotten a bit more out of the book if I had done a bit of research. Survivor’s guilt is definitely a big theme, but there’s just so many things flowing together that it’s really hard to say what else.
I bought the book because of its premise, but I really struggled to get into it. I’m glad that I managed to finish it, but I don’t think I’d do it again and will probably drop other books that I just feel I can’t get into from here on.
That why I also won’t judge the book. It just flew over my head. It’s not unusual that I don’t completely get literary works – I definitely did have my problems with キッチン and 推し、燃ゆ. But 貝に続く場所にて was on a whole new level.
Maybe I’ll try to read some reviews. If anyone else reads it, please tell me your opinions.
Edit: I also thought it would be a short read with only 160 pages, but the text is so dense that it’s about the same length (93k characters) as many 300 page novels, so you definitely shouldn’t assume this is a quick read.