Original language: Japanese

Original title:

Translation: Laura Beatrice Stetco Wheeler

Year of publication: 2018

Valuation: Between recommendable and okay

Ayumu, who has already changed schools on other occasions due to her father’s work transfers, is going to live for a while with her family in a rural town. There he meets Akira, a boy from his class who leads a small group of friends. Among them is the shy Minoru, who is often treated with cruelty and even violence by others. Ayumu does not actively participate in the abuse, but in order to integrate into the group he consents to it.

This is the premise of Okuribi. The festival of the dead, novel by Hiroki Takahashi. Winner of the 2018 Akutagawa Prize, it can be read in one sitting due to its brevity and the tension that permeates certain scenes.

Personally I think that, although it leaves a pleasant aftertaste, it falls short in some aspects. Both her prose and her characters are functional, it is true, but at the same time they seemed somewhat basic to me. As for the climax of the story, I find it excessively rushed. And the whole thing could have been oriented more successfully towards the transition from childhood to the protagonist’s adult life.

Having said that, I can’t deny that the novel works. In addition to entertaining, he sets up really powerful scenes (I think, for example, of the one involving sulfuric acid) and evokes a very interesting poetic tone. Perhaps this poetic tone that I just mentioned is not always necessary for the plot to advance or the themes to be defined, but the whole is so brief that a specific digression on the landscape, fauna or Japanese mythology does not bother at all.

In short: although Okuribi. The festival of the dead It is not a particularly memorable or accomplished novel, I recommend it for its effectiveness and sensitivity. Despite not opting for any grandiose elements, it manages to move and distress. It also makes us reflect, since its portrait of the cruelty of human beings not only points out those who exercise ridicule, humiliation and violence on others, but also criticizes those who turn a blind eye to avoid complicating their lives.

Source: https://unlibroaldia.blogspot.com/2024/02/hiroki-takahashi-okuribi-el-festival-de.html

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