Clockwise counting 89/50: Yasunari Kawabata - Thousand Cranes (1952)
A brilliant little novel about tea ceremony rituals, guilt and love. The protagonist is 25-year old Kikuji whose father has recently died. At a tea ceremony, he is introduced to a beautiful intended future wife by one of his father's old mistresses. He instead falls in love with another of his father's mistresses, the guilt-ridden and highly emotional Mrs Ota. After Mrs Ota's death, her daughter Fumiko enters his life as a continuation of the guilt and hopeless love.
Despite its small format, this novel tells a lot about human relationships and it leaves many questions unanswered in a perfectly satisfactory way. This is a minimalistic masterpiece and very similar to Snow Country, which I read earlier this year. Highly recommended.
I dunno if commenting is discouraged here (or intended for the other thread), but I've been curious about Kawabata for awhile, as he is a big -- well, maybe not a huge influence -- but William Vollmann is a big fan, so I had to check him out. His Palm of the Hand Stories, what people might call "short shorts" nowadays, were very good, very moving -- and also the inspiration behind one of my favorite books, Vollmann's The Atlas. So it's good to hear his novels are equally sound. I look forward to grabbing this one.
Also thumbs up to this whole thread.