Set in the years following World War II, A True Novel is a Japanese retelling of Wuthering Heights, where impoverished but ambitious Taro Azuma stands in for Heathcliff, beautiful and wealthy Yoko for Catherine Earnshaw, and consummate maid Fumiko for Nelly Dean (in an interpretation of the character that finally delivers on the intrigue teased in the original book). Minae Mizumura situates Emily Brontë's much-loved Victorian classic within the framework of the distinctly Japanese I-novel, grafting Eastern and Western storytelling techniques to create a deeply-nested, many-layered saga that unfolds from the streets of Tokyo to the mountains of Karuizawa. A True Novel doesn't always have the moor-swept lyricism or psychological thunder of its forebear, but it is immensely readable and epic in scope, looking outward at a rapidly modernizing Japan and at characters who are doomed less by their own destructive passions and more by the unstoppable tide of history. Translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter.
My full video review: