The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe


The Woman in the Dunes tells the tale about a young, amateur entomologist and teacher who took a trip to the seashores in the countryside in search of a kind of beetle he believed can be found in the sand dunes. He was unknowingly deceived by the villagers where he was lead down through a ladder to a house in very deep pits dug in the sand dunes. Soon enough, he found himself a prisoner in the house in the dunes of a young and lonely widow.

I actually thought this would be a quick read but how wrong was I? It turned out to be a very dense and also repetitive read for me. To be quite honest, it’s the kind that wears me down. Moreover, I am not very sure what to think of it. In theory, the plot was interesting, sure. But I felt like there were a lot of things going on that the author is trying to tell me but I couldn’t really quite get it? Also, it was difficult to like the characters. It was a tedious read. I felt like being trapped in the dunes like the man, I felt suffocated and thirsty. Perhaps that’s what the author exactly wants you to feel? I really don’t know.

The ending wasn’t quite satisfactory for me, too, but it left me question my place in the world and the impact I have to the people around me.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad read. This is my first Kobo Abe book so I probably just need to familiarize myself more of his works. I’ll find time to give this a second read and hopefully understand it better.

Quotable Quotes:

“One could not do without repetition in life, like the beating of the heart, but it was also true that the beating of the heart was not all there was to life.”

“Everyone has his own philosophy that doesn’t hold good for anybody else.”

“Only the happy ones return to contentment. Those who were sad return to despair.”

“I rather think the world is like sand. The fundamental nature of sand is very difficult to grasp when you think of it in its stationary state. Sand not only flows, but this very flow is the sand.”

“Loneliness was an unsatisfied thirst for illusion.”

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

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