Winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize for Literature, Kenzaburo Oe is one of our most important and acclaimed international voices. In The Changeling
, Oe takes readers from the forests of southern Japan
to the washed-out streets of Berlin
as he investigates the impact our real and imagined pasts have on the course of our lives.
Writer Kogito Choko is in his sixties when he rekindles a childhood friendship with his estranged brother-in-law, the renowned filmmaker Goro Hanawa. As part of their correspondence, Goro sends Kogito a trunk of tapes he has recorded; they contain his reflections on their youth and later estrangement. But as Kogito is listening to GoroÕs cassettes one evening, he hears something odd. I’m going to head over to the Other Side now, Goro says in the recording, followed by a loud thud. But don’t worry, he continues, I’m not going to stop communicating with you. Later that night, Kogito’s wife rushes in; Goro has jumped to his death from the roof of his production company’s headquarters in a glitzy Tokyo
Goro’s suicide shakes Kogito to his core, but also spurs the aging writer on a mission to reacquaint himself with his late brother-in-law. Kogito begins a far-ranging search for clues about his friend’s path, a quest that takes him from Japan
and finally on an interior journey to the rural island of his youth. There, during the first months of the Occupation of Japan, he and Goro became involved in a right-wing paramilitary group. Their ill-conceived plot to attack an American military base would change Goro and their friendship forever.
A sweeping, richly textured work, The Changeling
blends motifs from Japanese history, the writings of Arthur Rimbaud and Maurice Sendak, and snippets of modern filmmaking to form a stunning tale of brotherhood, loss, and artistic ambition one that confirms Kenzaburo Oe as a defining talent of our age.