Somersault (novel)

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Somersault (宙返り Chūgaeri) is a 1999 novel by Kenzaburō Ōe. It is about two former leaders of a religious cult as they try to establish a new movement, a possible nuclear catastrophe, and religious sects in everyday society.[1] It received inspiration from the Aum Shinrikyo cult and their Tokyo subway sarin attack of 1995. The English translation, by Philip Gabriel,[2] first appeared in 2003.[3] It was Ōe's first novel since he won the 1994 literature Nobel Prize.[4] It was published in the United States by Grove Press.[5] The book was published in the United Kingdom by Atlantic Books.[4]


Scott Esposito of the Los Angeles Times said that the translation "wasn't much admired by English-speaking reviewers".[3] Christopher Tayler of The Guardian said that the "sprawling" Somersault received "widespread criticism".[1] Publishers Weekly said "Oe [sic] has attempted to create a sprawling masterpiece, but American readers might decide there's more sprawl than masterpiece here."[2] Steven Poole of The Guardian said, "And yet, for all its longueurs, one finishes Somersault [sic] convinced that buried within the sprawling text is a brilliant, much shorter novel. Perhaps even Nobel laureates occasionally need ruthless editing."[4] Eric Hanson of the Star Tribune said the novel "would be an underwhelming and unsatisfying read, no matter the writer. But coming from a novelist of Oe's immense stature, it's beyond disappointing. It's depressingly sad [sic]."[5]


  1. ^ a b Tayler, Christopher. "The Changeling by Kenzaburo Oe." The Guardian. Friday June 11, 2010. Retrieved on November 9, 2012.
  2. ^ a b "SOMERSAULT." (978-0-8021-1738-0) Publishers Weekly. Retrieved on November 9, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Esposito, Scott. "'The Changeling' by Kenzaburo Oe." Los Angeles Times. March 7, 2010. Retrieved on November 9, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c Poole, Steven. "The RS Thomas cult." The Guardian. Friday August 1, 2003. Retrieved on November 9, 2012.
  5. ^ a b Hanson, Eric. "Review: 'Somersault' by Kenzaburo Oe." Star Tribune. April 26, 2003. Retrieved on November 9, 2012.