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The Literary Review on Shun Medoruma's 'In the Woods of Memory'

Thomas Joel - Monday, April 02, 2018

The Literary Review just wrote a penetrating and eloquent article on Shun Medoruma's novel In the Woods of Memory, asserting that it's "not simply a meditation on the failure to act, but on the inability to act either rightly or enough or both."

Here's a particularly incisive passage:

War, rape, and stabbings notwithstanding, the most viscerally gruesome and emotionally demeaning chapter plays out in a present day Okinawan middle school. When a chronically bullied pre-teen girl is forced to drink other girls’ spit, she throws up, and then takes the blame (both internally and publically) for the incident. As the girl who orchestrated the attack offers to take bullied girl to the school nurse, (“—Let’s wash your face, she says in a gentle voice”) the reader’s stomach turns. The act completes the cycle of abuse, where the controlling party torments and then care-takes the victim, leaving the wounded in anticipatory angst, in the same way that the Americans ravaged, then provided food and protection for, and then re-attacked, the Okinawan people. These scenes exemplify both the depth of violation betrayals of the body can incur and the added layer of horror present when your attacker has convinced you, despite past evidence, that they will not harm you again. This deep desire to believe you’re safe means that when another assault occurs, you erroneously blame yourself both for bringing the attack on and for your naiveté.

Read the full book review here.

 

 


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