The Woman in the Dunes
The Woman in the Dunes (砂の女 Suna no onna "sand woman") is a novel by the Japanese writer Kōbō Abe, published in 1962. It won the 1962 Yomiuri Prize for literature, and an English translation and a film adaptation appeared in 1964.
In 1955, Jumpei Niki, a schoolteacher from Tokyo, visits a fishing village to collect insects. After missing the last bus, he is led, by the villagers, in an act of apparent hospitality, to a house in the dunes that can be reached only by ladder. The next morning the ladder is gone and he finds he is expected to keep the house clear of sand with the woman living there, with whom he is also to produce children. He eventually gives up trying to escape when he comes to realize returning to his old life would give him no more liberty. After seven years, he is proclaimed officially dead.
Publication, reception, and legacy
The book attracted much attention in Japan on its publication in 1962, earning praise from critics as well as contemporaries such as Kenzaburō Ōe and Yukio Mishima. It won that year's Yomiuri Prize for literature. An English translation appeared in 1964, as did a film adaptation directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara starring Eiji Okada which won the Special Jury Prize at the 1964 Cannes Film Festival.
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- Treat, John Whittier (1994). "The Woman in the Dunes". In Miller, Barbara Stoler. Masterworks of Asian Literature in Comparative Perspective. A Guide for Teaching. Sharpe. pp. 457–469. ISBN 9780765631657.
- Dissanayake, Wimal (1990). "Self, Place and Body in The Woman in the Dunes". In Toyama, J.; Ochner, N. Literary Relations East and West. 3. University of Hawaii at Manoa Press. ISBN 9780824813246.
- Kimball, Arthur G. (1962). "Identity Found: Suna no onna". Crisis in Identity and the Contemporary Japanese Novel. Tuttle.
- Quotations related to The Woman in the Dunes at Wikiquote