SchoolGirl by Osamu Dazai

Title: Schoolgirl
Author: Osamu Dazai (Translated by Allison Markin Powell)
Paperback: 100 pages
Publisher: One Peace Books (October 1, 2011)
Genre: Fiction/ Novella
Source: Review Copy
Set in: Japan
Challenge: East and SouthEast Asia Challenge
Rating: 3 out of 5

My thoughts:
I was very interested in this book because it’s considered a Japanese modern Classic and is written by a very popular Japanese author. Considering how weak my knowledge is in Japanese literature, modern or otherwise, I thought reading this book would give me an insight into the same.

This book could be sensitive, silent, hopeful and depressing all at once. Schoolgirl is a basically a day in life of a schoolgirl on the verge of womanhood. Her mothers indifference following her father’s death leaves a huge void in her life leaving her alone and vulnerable. Beneath all the loneliness she is also very depressed. She is at a stage in her life where her thoughts are full of contradictions. Her view of the world is hopeful and depressing at the same time.

Plot is something that is very important to me in a novel and Schoolgirl definitely doesn’t have one. But my main problem with the book is that I couldn’t relate to the central character which is perhaps no fault of the author or the translator. For someone who doesn’t get depressed ever (touch wood), I didn’t understand how the girls thoughts veered towards depression so often and for no reason. I know there are people who suffer from depression and perhaps it is as unexplained as it is for this girl.

The back of the book says that Osamu Dazai suffered from depression during his lifetime and he died from a suicide attempt after several unsuccessful ones. There must be a few of his thoughts reflected through this young girls vision.

Overall I wasn’t as impressed with this book as so many others have. But I’m glad I read it.

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9 thoughts on “SchoolGirl by Osamu Dazai

  1. Nice review. I personally like Dazai but haven’t read this one. My favourite is No Longer Human, although if you find a manic-depressive, slightly melodramatic, and also morally corrupt protagonist hard to relate to, I’m not sure you would enjoy it.

    Maybe Mishima does Ennui with less fuss in Confessions of a Mask, which is also a coming of age story.

    • I don’t mind manic-depressive but I need some plot. But since the author comes so highly recommended I might give another of his books a try. I’ll look up Confessions of a Mask in the library, thanks

  2. I haven’t read this author before.The theme sounds interesting, but i don’t think i am in the mood for deep,contemplative books now. My exposure to Japanese literature is restricted to Murakami, so i need to really remedy that soon!

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