In this groundbreaking novel, Fumiko Hayashi tells the powerful
story of tormented love and one woman's struggle to navigate the
cruel realities of postwar Japan. The novel's characters,
particularly its resilient heroine Koda Yukiko, find themselves
trapped in their own drifting, unable to break out of the morass of
indecisiveness. Set in the years during and after World War II,
their lives and damaged psyches reflect the confusion of the times
in which they live.
"Floating Clouds" follows Yukiko as she moves from the
physically lush and beautiful surroundings of Japanese-occupied
French Indochina to the desolation and chaos of postwar Japan.
Hayashi's spare, affecting novel presents a rare portrait of
Japanese colonialism and the harshness of Japan's postwar
experience from the perspective of a woman. Its rich cast of
characters, drawn from the back alleys of urban Japan and the low
rungs of society, offers an unforgettable portrait of Japanese
society after the war.
The tortured relationship between Yukiko and Tomioka, a minor
official with the Department of Agriculture and Forestry, provides
the dramatic center of the novel. Yukiko meets Tomioka while
working as a typist for the Japanese ministry in Indochina, where
they begin their affair. After the war, Tomioka returns to his wife
but remains emotionally inscrutable to Yukiko, refusing to break
off their relationship. Meanwhile, Yukiko must find her way in a
radically changed postwar Japan. When Yukiko and Tomioka's lives
once again cross, the two set down a path shaped by their passion
and sense of desperation.
First published in 1951, "Floating Clouds" is a classic of
modern Japanese literature and was later made into a film by
legendary Japanese director Mikio Naruse.
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