|Image Credit: Bibliojunkie|
A lovely friend of mine gifted this book as a New Year gift, and considering how much I loved Tanizaki's Makioka Sisters, I was looking forward to this one. I don't make New Year resolutions - I tend to fritter them all the time - but one of the things I have promised myself this year is to read more Asian fiction. I have been fascinated with Japanese literature for a while now without really getting the chance to read it. Quicksand started promisingly for me. For a novel that was first published in 1947, there is a element of openness here that didn't shock me - but really surprised me. The Japanese title was called Manji and dear Wikipedia informs me that the original cover featured a four-pronged Buddhist swastika, a symbol of the four lovers who form the hapless swirling quicksand of emotions that comprises this book. There is an element of danger and the allure of seduction that runs through this book.
Sonoko Kakiuchi is the young woman, who is also the narrator, telling the story to an invisible author. She falls hopelessly in love with the dazzlingly beautiful Mitsuko. There is Kakiuchi's husband - a rather saintly-like lawyer called Kotaro who becomes aware of her affair with Mitsuko, tolerates it, forbids it and goes through a series of vacillations that had me confused and perturbed. Into this already simmering broth enter Watanuki Eijiro, Mitsuko's boyfriend. It was at this point that I lost the point. I had no idea who was in love with who, and whose motives were to be trusted. Bit like life, I guess. We never know who to trust, most of the time. But here, I had the feeling that even for an author like Tanizaki who courted controversy, the book pans out to an ending that was increasing incomprehensible. Machinations and manipulations, forbidden, crazy and insane love. That is Quicksand. Dragging the reader down into this morass of love is Quicksand.
I can't say with honesty I liked the book. I am happy I finished it. Perhaps, I am skimming lightly over this classic - maybe it is dark comedy with a nihilistic strain that mocks the veneer of normal that society drapes itself with it. I was too confused, and too tired to care by the end.
Verdict : Read at your own risk