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Profile Image for Robin.
493 reviews2,728 followers
August 2, 2021
Here I am, back at home. That's the feeling I had, almost instantly, as I began this collection of three stories (not quite novellas in my mind, even though that is the descriptor on the cover).

You might know already that I recently read Robert Aickman's Cold Hand In Mine, and found it more miss than hit. Too many strange, Twilight-Zone endings that just didn't work for me.

Well, what wonderful luck that Yōko Ogawa gave me everything here that I had been looking for in Aickman's book: short stories with a sinister lean, efficient prose that doesn't overwork for its desired effect, and enough psychological insight to satisfy. YES.

In the title story, a teenager who has grown up in an orphanage (but oddly is the only one who isn't an orphan, because her parents run the place) takes out her complex anger and inner deadness on a toddler. In 'Pregnancy Diary', a woman witnesses her sister go through pregnancy, how she both starves and binges, bestowing on food a grotesqueness that knows no bounds. In 'The Dormitory', a disfigured man runs a student house in which his residents seem to disappear.

All three stories are disturbing and arresting, but they have an oddly welcoming quality. They invite you in to come and have a look around. The prose is lean and elegant, the themes are accessible. The stories, while independent of each other, do share commonalities: loneliness, gothic-y food fetishizing, cruelty to the vulnerable.

Yōko Ogawa is a favourite writer of mine, and I had been saving this for a while, it being the last of her translated works left for me to read. I loved it, and the only reason I'm rating it 4 stars rather than 5, is because I'm more in love with her longer work (Hotel Iris and The Memory Police).

What a joy to be invited in again by this writer. It's so nice to be home.
Profile Image for بثينة العيسى.
Author 23 books25.9k followers
September 4, 2022
إنَّ الروايات في جلّها احتفاءٌ بالغرابة، لكن الروايات اليابانية لا تكتفي بالاحتفاء بالغرابة، بل تقومُ بتطبيعها.
لأن بطل «كاواباتا» في رواية «الجميلات النائمات» يجد مسرّة عمره المتأخرة في تفحّص العظام الناتئة لفتاةٍ تم تخديرها، وبطل «تانيزاكي» في «المفتاح» يكتبُ مذكّراته الحميمة ويخبئها على أمل أن تقرأها زوجته التي تلعب معه لعبة شبيهة، وميشيما يكتبُ رباعية لشخص يتتبع حيوات عديدة لروحٍ واحدة مستدلًا عليها بوحمة ميلاد. والآن، تأتي شخصيات يوكو أوغاوا، حيث تتعذب الشخصية بفراغها الداخلي لدرجة أنها تتسلى بإيذاء طفلة عمرها ثلاث سنوات، لأن بكاءها وحده يشعرها بأنها موجودة.
يمكن القولُ بأن الرواية اليابانية تدفع الحالة البشرية دائمًا إلى حافّة ينتفي فيها الفرق بين ما هو عادي وما هو غريب، بين ما هو طبيعي وما هو مرضي. إنها تتحرك في مناطق غير مريحة، تتجاوز تطبيع الغرابة إلى نفي الغرابة، فما من شيء غريب عندما يتعلق الأمر بالإنسان، على عكس المجتمع الإنساني.
في تلك الأعمال يندرُ أن تتصل الشخصيات ببعضها على نحوٍ حميم، ولا يحظى أكثرها بحقه في الضعف، ولا يكاد أيهم يقدر على التعبير عن حقيقته إلا في السّر. تتلافي تلك الروايات أية مواجهة مع الأفكار؛ بل إن هناك تحاشٍ مقصود لتداول الأفكار وطرحها ومناقشتها، على عكس روائيين مثل يوسا وفوينتس ودوستوفيسكي وباموق مثلًا، وحتى الياباني المارق شوساكو إندو. في العموم، تبدو الفكرة في الرواية اليابانية الكلاسيكية مثل بحيرةِ جبلية؛ جسد مائي شفاف خبيء، والحكاية ترقص حولها؛ مخاتلة وحسية وفياضة بالتفاصيل.
قرأتُ العديد من الروايات اليابانية، أحببتُ بعضها أكثر من البعض الآخر، وربما كرهتُ بعضها، لا بأس. لكنها كلها، كلها.. تجعلني أتساءل؛ اللعنة، ما هو الإنسان؟!
Profile Image for Liong.
147 reviews114 followers
August 26, 2022
The reason why I read this book is that I read the author's book "The housekeeper and the Professor".

This book consists of 3 stories as you see in the book title.

1. The Diving Pool and 2. Pregnancy diary
I felt a bit boring when reading these 2 novellas or maybe my expectation is high.

3. Dormitory
I like this story and it is a bit surreal. I kept on guessing the end of the story with my imagination.
If you like Haruki Murakami's style, I am sure you may enjoy reading it.

I may say that the author, Yoko Ogawa, can describe every situation vividly and I can feel that I am part of the story. I plan to continue to read her books and hope to discover more gems.
Profile Image for Kay.
197 reviews373 followers
January 3, 2013
Well, if I ever want acid indigestion, I know just the book to turn to.

I've been very lucky this past year with contemporary Japanese authors, and Yoko Ogawa has been one of the top on that list. This novella features three standalone stories, all united by recurring themes. In each story, the main characters assume the role of the incongruous outsider, distant and apathetic, but frothing underneath with violent undercurrents of obsession and desire.

Perhaps most significantly, these outsiders are all female, each seeking companionship but falling just short of getting it. Isolation is a running thread in the three stories, and it is through the lens of isolation that Yoko Ogawa warps each protagonist's view of her world. Beauty is perverted into revulsion. The human aesthetic is reduced to a scientific specimen. Repressed sexual desire, oftentimes misplaced or unrequited, is expressed through sadism and abuse.

The most compelling aspect of this novella was just how capable of casual cruelty we are in everyday life, particularly in the first two stories, and how powerful and maddening isolation can become.

I planned on finishing this book in one or two sittings because of its relatively short length. But after reading the unsettling, mind bending first story that was The Diving Pool, also the title of the book, I realized I could only take this book in bite-sized pieces (and if you’ve read The Diving Pool, you’ll know how ironic that statement is).


After reading this story, I just wanted to curl up in a fetal position and rock back and forth. I actually had to set this book down a few times after reading some particularly disturbing passages.

Out narrator is Aya, the daughter of a husband and wife who run an orphanage. Despite being her parent’s sole biological child, Aya is still treated like an orphan, exacerbating her feelings of displacement and isolation. Aya’s one comfort is secretly watching Jun, her foster brother, dive at the local pool and reveling in his sleek physique and elegant form. However, as Jun is technically Aya’s “brother” and her increasingly obsessive feelings can never be requited, Aya alleviates her emotional frustrations in sadistic and grotesque ways.

What struck me most about this story was how seamlessly the author wove cruelty into the narrative. It seemed almost like a natural human reaction simply because of its selfishness and the longing that drove it. This was a gem of a story, albeit a haunting and disturbing one.

Story rating: 5/5


While The Diving Pool revolves around the psychological workings of a young girl, this story draws inspiration from physical, commonplace things like pregnancy, ultrasound imaging, and food. However, despite its reliance on the physical world, the story has a surreal quality about it, as if it were a dream laced with nightmares.

Similar to The Diving Pool, the protagonist is a cool, detached woman who lives with her pregnant sister and brother-in-law. Already the proverbial third wheel, the narrator further emphasizes her alienation in her journal entries that detail the progress of her sister’s pregnancy. But rather than the musings of a concerned sibling, the entries have a cold, stilted quality that tips off that reduces pregnancy into something repulsive and gluttonous.

One of the ways the narrator does this is through her descriptions of food. Food is never just food. It is in turns fragrant and tasty, slimy and revolting, poisonous and corruptive. The narrator’s pregnant sister goes so far as comparing noodles to tiny intestinal tracts.

Like Aya in the previous story, the narrator never expresses her emotions outright, but the darkness of her observations hint at a boiling resentment. Again, cruelty sinks into the narrative like a subtle poison. It’s a disorienting feeling, one that keeps you on the edge of your toes in expectation of the dire consequences such resentment can bring about.

Story rating: 4.5/5


I’d have to say Dormitory was the least surreal of the three, and while the theme of isolation permeates the story, the main conflict resolves itself very differently.

Again, the main character is a woman. While waiting for her husband to call her to Sweden, she remains in Japan to pack and settle their affairs before she leaves the country. When she gets a request from her cousin to find housing, however, the woman recommends him to live in an old dormitory run by a paraplegic man, a place in which she had lived years earlier. The story quickly morphs into something resembling a mystery at the dormitory as the woman increasingly shuts out her distant husband and focuses more on her young cousin.

Unlike the previous two stories, there are barely any mentions of food or graphic cruelty. The outer layer of the story is a murder mystery in a strange, offbeat environment. But Yoko Ogawa flips the murder mystery genre on its head at the very last page, instead posing questions about the nature of self and its lonely drive toward madness.

Though the least shocking and toned down, I thought this was probably the most carefully crafted story of the three.

Story rating: 5/5

Overall, these stories were not comfortable reads. But they have a strange and disturbing pull, an elegant allure that does not let you look away. Despite my own fanfare, I hesitate to recommend this book to everyone just because of its subject matter and the bizarre circumstances in which certain topics are addressed.

However, if you’re in the mood for something that will disturb and shock you from your daily routine, definitely think about reading this book.

5 STARS AND HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, though with reservations.
Profile Image for Warwick.
844 reviews14.6k followers
October 2, 2019
It's ironic that this was translated by Stephen Snyder, who wrote a famous essay about literary translation – The Murakami Effect – complaining that translated fiction tends disproportionately to favour those writers who use simple language and minimal cultural detail. Ironic because that's exactly how I'd characterise this book. It exists comfortably in that Global English which calls on a small vocabulary, a flat style, and no knowledge of its context, and builds its sense of generalised anxiety from overt symbols rather than from linguistic effects. Nothing wrong with that in principle, of course.

The three stories in this collection share a common obsession with the unsettling details of food, bodies, and what you might call an erotics of vulnerability. For Ogawa, it is enough to focus attention on a few particulars of everyday life – ‘My cold bacon and eggs lay quietly in the pan’; ‘in the darkness and silence, I heard the faint sound of running water’ – and hope that we pick up on the tone. If not, she just comes right out and explains that it's creepy.

It occurred to me that almost everything in the store was edible, and this seemed a bit sinister. There was something disturbing about so many people converging on this one spot in search of food.

I mean…was there? I compare this with a writer like JG Ballard, who operates on the same basis but with a prose style that works for him. He can write sentences like: ‘The house was silent, but somewhere in the garden was a swimming pool filled with unsettled water.’ This does everything Ogawa's prose wants to.

The problem with feeling that a writing style is too flat is that I was increasingly unsure about whether Ogawa actually had something to say behind it. The feeling becomes especially acute in the third story, where Gothic ideograms are piled up almost to the point of absurdity – a missing student, a sound of unseen insects, an empty house, a man with one leg and no arms, for heaven's sake. The conjunction of these things is presented as something to be in some way deciphered, but I am a bit doubtful that it can be done – the technique seems to be more about throwing symbols at the reader and hoping some of them stick.

Of course these issues are one of the dangers with translated fiction in general, for all the reasons that this particular translator has laid out in his essay elsewhere. Still, for all the problems I had with it, this kind of storytelling does have its charm, and if you like flat, deadpan evocations of quotidian unease then you may well get a lot more out of this.
Profile Image for Emily Coffee and Commentary.
471 reviews154 followers
December 14, 2022
Eerie, disturbing, and tense, the Diving Pool is a collection of three novellas that explore cruelty, envy, and the slow unraveling of reality. Each story approaches sadism, depression, and hallucinatory dependence in a matter of fact, everyday manner, which adds to the the building dread and horror that each provokes. Though the language is simple and direct, so much lays beneath the surface, and the discomfort lingers long after each story’s completion. A compelling collection of the monsters that live among us.
Profile Image for Heba.
1,091 reviews2,128 followers
December 2, 2021
إنها ابنة مدير لإحدى دور الأيتام تعيش معهم وبالرغم من وجود والديها إلا أنها يتيمة هى الأخرى ...
كانت على الدوام شاردة الذهن..تعسة.، قلقة..وتفترسها الوحدة..
لم يكن لديها ما تفعله سوى مراقبة "جون" وهو يقفز من مرقاة الغطس بحوض السباحة وأن تتلذذ بتعذيب طفلة صغيرة...
تعيش في صراع دائم ما بين صفعات قساوتها التي تعجز عن تفسيرها ورذاذ قطرات مياة صافية تغمرها بنقاءها إثر قفزة الفتى بحوض السباحة ...
تبدو قصة عادية ولكنها كُتبت بلغة شاعرية عذبة مرهفة تستقطبك لعالمها بهدوء وسكون تام...
نحن البالغين نبحث دوماً عن مكان سري نخفي به أحزاننا وأوجاعنا ، ولكن في لحظة ما قد نبوح بها في محاولة منا لتشظيها لعلمنا أنه لاسبيل لتبديدها تماماً...
لربما لو استطاعت الفتاة أن تبكي أو تبوح بما يعتمل بداخلها لتحررت ولو قليلاً من معاناتها الأليمة....
Profile Image for Teresa.
Author 8 books817 followers
July 17, 2018
The three stories in this collection are disturbing, warped and lovely. Unlike with some collections, the stories seem to belong together and are placed in a chronological fashion, by age of the the first-person female narrator (though they are not the same person): from a young teenage girl to a college-aged woman with a part-time job to a young wife. The stories are told in deceptively simple prose that keeps you thinking for a long time afterward.

There are thematic and symbolic strains: of memory (a sort of nostalgia?), the outward crumbling of buildings (reflecting what is within the narrators?) and the unease associated with the roles of females (including, in the first two stories, the relationship of unmarried young women to babies not their own; and, in the last, an almost passive-aggressive rebellion of a wife toward her husband). 'Irreconcilable' is a word that is used in more than one story.

The last story, "Dormitory," shares several similarities with “Old Mrs. J," a story in Ogawa's collection unfortunately titled in English Revenge (I think the Japanese title fits much better). "Dormitory" escalates the tension so effectively that it had me believing something I didn't think I should and then when I did come to believe it and was proven wrong, I felt almost obliged to laugh at myself.
Profile Image for Janie.
1,079 reviews
August 22, 2020
Yoko Agawa's writing is magnetic. Each of the three novellas in this volume pulled me instantly into the lives of the characters. Themes of isolation, jealousy, cruelty and compassion are presented with ease, compelling the reader to become involved with personalities either unsavory or benevolent. The words fly as graciously as bees and tempt the reader to seek honey in the strangest of places.
Profile Image for Matteo Fumagalli.
Author 1 book8,538 followers
February 12, 2023
Amo Yoko Ogawa e la sua capacità di unire forza di scrittura ad ambiguità perturbante nei suoi racconti e romanzi.
"La casa della luce", tuttavia, non mi ha convinto.
Il ritmo dei tre racconti è narcolettico e, in generale, privo di guizzi. Tutti e tre gli scritti mi sono sembrati abbastanza inconsistenti. Giusto il primo mi è sembrato il più interessante.
Profile Image for Blair.
1,794 reviews4,432 followers
August 21, 2019
Three stories, all of which feel unsettling in a way that can be difficult to quantify. The main characters might be collectively described as female outsiders: two women and one girl, all of them lonely, detached, and concerned with observing rather than participating.

In 'The Diving Pool', teenage Aya focuses her obsessive energies on her foster brother Jun, whose body she covets, and a little girl named Rie, whom she torments. 'Pregnancy Diary' again centres on a character who seems overly preoccupied with bodies, as the narrator keeps a record of the changes in her pregnant sister's appetite and appearance. Both stories feature deeply uncomfortable details – Aya's characterisation of her cruelty to Rie as 'erotic', the sister's repulsive descriptions of food: 'Doesn't the sauce on the macaroni remind you of digestive juices?'

The weirdest – and best – of the stories is the last, 'Dormitory'. The narrator is living alone; her husband has moved to Sweden for a job, but she's in no hurry to join him, ignoring the to-do lists he sends her. A younger cousin asks her to help him find somewhere to live while he studies in Tokyo, and she recommends her old dormitory. Run by a triple amputee – whom the narrator refers to simply as 'the manager' – the place is dilapidated and near-empty, seemingly infested by decay. This theme is mirrored in the structure of the story itself, as things progressively become stranger and more surreal, culminating in a bizarre final scene that feels like something from a dream... or a nightmare.

While I was reading The Diving Pool, I felt a little disappointed. I'd heard a lot about Yōko Ogawa's work, and the writing didn't seize me as I'd hoped – the style is rather listless, an echo of the characters' oddly placid dispositions. But now I've spent a bit of time away from it, I'm beginning to perceive the details, meanings and motifs I didn't notice at first. Appropriately (given the title), these brief, cool stories conceal hidden depths.

TinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr
451 reviews2,997 followers
January 3, 2012
عُرف عن أوغارا شفافيتها المطلقة وحساسيتها في الكتابة وأظن أن الأدب الياباني بشكل عام يتسم بهذه السمة ..القصة تدور حول إبنة مدير دار الأيتام والتي عاشت طفولتها ومراهقتها في الميتم حتى اختفى شعورها بالانتماء نحو أسرة وأصبح المسيطر عليها الشعور باليُتم كحال كل المتواجدين فيه
تستطيع أن تفكر كيف أن شابة في مقتبل العمر خالية من أية طموحات تستطيع أن تقضي الجزء الأهم من عمرها في مكان كهذا !
سنوات المراهقة !
والتي تدفع من يمر بها للتفكير في بعض الأمور الغريبة
البحث عن متعة في ميتم !
تبدو قضية !
هذه المراهقة لم يكن لديها سوى متعتان متناقضتان تماما بين عشقها لجسد أحد المنتمين للمكان
والتي دفعتها لمراقبته وهو يمارس هوايته السباحة فتهيم في هوى كتفه الأيمن ،عضلاته , انحناءات الجسد , الارتطام بالماء وغيره وما بين رغبة شديدة في الإيذاء والتي فرغتها بطريقتها الخاصة وكانت ضحيتها طفلة بريئة لا تقل عن الخامسة من العمر
أسلوب أوغارا مذهل ومشوق وطريقتها في وصف جسد زميلها المراهق والذي ينطوي على رغبات مكبوتة
على الجانب الآخر كانت يوكو أوغارا بارعة في إظهار براءة الشخصية والتي تخفي كمية مهولة من الشر ولكن على حسب ما تقتضيه أحداث الرواية

الرواية حافلة بالمشاهد الجميلة باللغة الشعرية المكثفة
أسلوب رقيق شفاف
Profile Image for زكرياء.
Author 3 books766 followers
February 20, 2021

قرأت الرواية خصوصا بسبب المترجم الشاعر اللبناني باسم الحجار الذي يعمل ترجمات شاعرية للأدب الياباني

تبدأ الرواية ب فتاة تذهب للمسبح بشكل مستمر وسري من أجل التحديق في سباح مراهق وتأمل جسمه وعضلاته. ثم نكتشف أن هذا السباح هو زميلها في الميتم الذي تعيش فيه مع مجموعة أطفال ووالديها اللذين يديران الميتم والكنيسة. يجد الأطفال عائلات تتبناهم ويأتي آخرين لكن تبقى الفتاة، بطلة الرواية مع والديها. فهي قانونيا وتقنيا ليست يتيمة. لكنها تصف نفسها في الصفحة 41 "كنت يتيمة لا يرغب أحد في تبنيها." مما يعني أنا مضطرة لتعيش حياة اليتم وداخل مؤسسة الأيتام

تندرج الرواية في نوع: النوفيلا الوجدانية وتذكرني ب بانانا يوشيموتو
الرواية تركز على الحالات النفسية وليس على الأحداث والشخصيات

الشخصية الرئيسية: مضطربة وانفعالية وغارقة في خواطرها الذاتية الكئيبة وأظن أن هذه نتيجة طبيعية لما تعانيه من يتم معنوي وحرمان عاطفي
لكن الشخصية التي أفضلها هي جون، السباح اللطيف الذي تحبه البطلة... فهو شخصية جميلة وإيجابية ولطيفة لأنه يحاول إدارة مشاعره بممارسة الرياضة وأن يكون متاحا عاطفيا لأطفال الميتم

هناك مكانين رئيسيين في الرواية: الميتم والمسبح. كل مكان له رمزية خاصة وأظن أن المسبح هو المهرب لبطلة الرواية
اختارت الساردة أن تبدأ الرواية في المسبح وتنهيه في الميتم
وهناك مكان ثالث وسيط وهو المستشفى

البطلة شخصية تعاني تقوم بأشياء للتحكم في ألمها لكنها تؤذي نفسها أكثر
النهاية أعجبتني


"في الحياة هناك أشياء كثيرة لا نملك أن نفعل بصددها شيئاً" ص 19

" كان يخيل إلي أن أبسط الكلمات تكتسب على لسانه عمقاً غير متوقع." ص 20

" إن جسده على قدر من الكمال في نظري بحيث ينتابني القلق ما إن يتعرض لأذى." ص 22

" يمكن كل واحد منا ببلوغه سن الرشد، من العثور، لي مكان ما على موضع سري يخفي فيه وحدته، خوفه أو حزنه فإن الأطفال لا يفلحون في إخفاء ما بهم، ويبددون كل شيء على هيئة بكاء." ص 38

Profile Image for Araz Goran.
824 reviews3,625 followers
August 30, 2021
رواية رقيقة عذبة ذات نكهة رشيقة، تلامس فيها أجواء الحب الأول، تستشف الغامض والرقيق من الحب، الحب الناعم الذي ينضج من خلاله قلب المحب بفعل المراقبة الدائمة وملامسة الجلد الطري لقلب الآخر، التعود الحر على تنجب اللقاءات الظاهرة، كل شيء في هذه الرواية مخبأ في أعماق القلب، رتابة الحب وشؤونه بين قلب عاشق وآخر ينظر للعالم كحلم دائم ..

رواية رفيعة الطراز لكنها في ذات الوقت لا تحمل أي قصة ولا مغزى، تخرج منها بخفي حنين، رغم أن الكلمات وشجون القلب والعاطفة تلامسك ولكني متأكد أنني سرعان ما أنسى هذه الرواية وأودعها في قلبي، هذه الرواية تشبه رسالة حب تأتيك من شخص مجهول ثم تبرد الرسالة في قلبك رويداً رويداً حتى تتلاشى ..
تمنيت أن تكون أقل رتابة وأقل واقعية من هذا، الواقع أحياناً ممل ولا يشبع جوع القارئ .. وأيضاً يشفع لها قصرها وأنك يمكن أن تنتهي من قراءتها في جلسة يتيمة ..
Profile Image for Σταμάτης Λαδικός.
Author 2 books48 followers
January 18, 2018
Ξαναδιάβασα πριν λίγο καιρό την συλλογή αυτή της Γιόκο Ογκάουα (εκδ Άγρα) και υποκλίθηκα ξανά στο συγγραφικό της ταλέντο και στην πανέμορφη πρόζα της. Η Ογκάουα έχει ένα μοναδικό ταλέντο στο να καταφέρνει να τραβήξει αριστοτεχνικά όλες τις απαραίτητες χορδές ώστε να αναστατώσει τον αναγνώστη της.
Ο ρυθμός της αφήγησης είναι αργός, μα ταυτόχρονα σφιχτοδεμένος. H αφηγηματική φωνή, πάντα απαλή, δίχως εξάρσεις αλλά και αφόρητα διεισδυτική, μας πιάνει από το χέρι και μας τραβάει αργά στον παράδοξο και σκοτεινό κόσμο των ηρωίδων (που είναι πάντα γυναίκες) αντιμέτωπους με το σκοτάδι της ανθρώπινης ψυχής...
Η χρήση των υπαινιγμών είναι αριστοτεχνική, το χτίσιμο της ατμόσφαιρας το ίδιο. Ειδικά η δεύτερη ιστορία, "Ο Κοιτώνας" είναι υπόδειγμα εφιαλτικής κλιμάκωσης, ένα πραγματικό διαμάντι που πολλοί συγγραφείς Τρόμου θα ..."σκότωναν" για να το έχουν γράψει αυτοί. Η τρίτη ιστορία, το "Ημερολόγιο Εγκυμοσύνης", βυθίζει τον αναγνώστη στο νοσηρό κόσμο της διαταραγμενης αφηγήτριας λέξη με τη λέξη, κόβωντας του την ανάσα καθώς αρχίζει να αντιλαμβάνεται το τι η ηρωίδα υπαινίσσεται στο ημερολόγιο που κρατάει για την εγκυμοσύνη της αδερφής της...
Profile Image for Lauren .
1,735 reviews2,336 followers
January 1, 2023
▫️THE DIVING POOL: Three Novellas by Yoko Ogawa, tr. Stephen Snyder

...If this had been my first Ogawa, I would have thought long and hard about coming back for more...

BUT it was not my first. That distinction belongs to REVENGE, which I liked much more, and followed up with The HOUSEKEEPER and the Professor, a beautiful novel. I know what she can do and i do appreciate her work.

There were some moments in these stories that did work for me - I like her "scene painting" & settings, her lingering visualizations, but the sadistic cruel undercurrent was not my vibe at all right now (ever).

The first 2 stories - "Diving Pool" and "Pregnancy Diary" will remain in my consciousness for a bit... For better or worse.
Profile Image for David.
638 reviews121 followers
March 18, 2013
I think she should have made a novel from "The Diving Pool". I thoroughly enjoyed our hero empowering herself and expressing love through brutal cruelty to another:
"Rie's terrified tears were particularly satisfying, like hands caressing me in exactly the right places – not vague, imaginary hands but his hands, the ones I was sure would know just how to please me." Yikes, huh?

"Pregnancy Diary" - Eerie. Weird. More of Ogawa's nourishing cruelty.

"Dormitory" - Again, cruelty in place of communication. Loved it. Fabulous ending, read the last pages four times.

"It occurred to me that he was young to have lost so many important things: his chicken, his girl, his father."
Profile Image for Michael Livingston.
795 reviews252 followers
May 16, 2020
Three cool, uncomfortable novellas. Ogawa's simple, elegant prose makes the darkness at the heart of these stories even stranger.
Profile Image for Kaya.
218 reviews223 followers
March 27, 2022
Despite the fact I find Asian literature a bit unconventional, the more I read it, the more I like it. This book is no exception. It has it all - melancholy, questionable behaviour and obsession. I've read it in one sitting. It really is fast-paced and entertaining, but I'm not sure what the resulting message was supposed to be.

This is a collection of three short stories that are really dark. You're never sure whether the story will turn into tragedy or resolve safely. Or even if it will resolve at all. The characters walk on the thin lines between lucidness and madness. Stories are chilling, creepy and shocking. The cruelty of the characters is hidden inside compassion, politeness and innocence.

The Diving Pool 4 stars

Aya is obsessed with her younger foster brother Jun. Her parents run a home for orphans and abandoned children. Jun is a diver, and Aya loves to watch him from the corners and shadows, torn between the desire to stay hidden and the desire to be seen by him. This story is my favorite of the three because it's the most straightforward. This is a twisted love story, which is expressed through various acts of cruelty towards a toddler. The story ends with a bit of a twist.

The Pregnancy Diaries 3 stars

The descriptions of the morning sickness and cravings of pregnancy were twisted a bit. Nameless narrator lives with pregnant sister and her husband and their life revolves food. Emotionally detached narrator is present again. When the narrator’s sister recovers from several months of early pregnancy nausea, the narrator sadistically begins feeding her with grapefruit jam made from imported fruits which are potentially harmful to the fetus. Her actions are so calculated and subconscious almost as if she doesn't realize what she's doing. Instead of feeling excitement or even slight empathy for her sister, she feels disgusted by the pregnancy progress. The way it’s written, it feels like pregnancy is something dirty and repulsive.

Dormitory 2.5 stars

Another nameless narrator helps her young cousin secure a room in her old college dormitory. She begins to visit the triple-amputee who manages the property. It has a questionable ending I do not understand nor I like.There is reason that dormity was completely empty, ugh.
Profile Image for Jill.
1,189 reviews1,688 followers
December 9, 2014
Last year, I read Yoko Ogawa’s newest collection, Revenge – spare and unsettling tales of emotionally damaged individuals that contrast elegant prose with often bizarre situations.

The Diving Pool, written nearly a quarter century earlier, provides a context for Ms. Ogawa’s trajectory as a writer. It offers three novellas that start out gently and gradually build in intensity while maintaining their dreamlike state.

In the first, a truculent teen named Aya is obsessed with her younger foster brother, Jun, a diver. As the “only child who is not an orphan” in the orphanage run by her sanctimonious parents, Aya is teeming with resentment…which eventually plays out in near-tragic cruelty to a little girl. Aya is eventually deprived of the illusion of Jun’s comfort: “If he had attacked me outright, I might have been able to defend myself. Instead, he exposed my secret as if offering himself to me.”

Pregnancy Diary, the second of the three, also presents an emotionally detached narrator (as do many of the tales in Revenge). Like the stories in Revenge, food is focal point. When the unnamed narrator’s sister recovers from several months of early pregnancy nausea, the narrator sadistically begins feeding her sister huge quantities of grapefruit jam. “She ate spoonful after spoonful. Her protruding belly made her look almost arrogant as she stood there by the stove, pouring the sticky globs of fruit down her throat. As I studies the last puddles of jam trembling slightly at the bottom of the pan, I wondered whether PWH could really destroy chromosomes.”

Lastly, in Dormitory, a wife – who will soon be joining her husband in Sweden – helps her young out-of-town cousin secure a room in her old college dormitory. There she becomes reacquainted with the manager, a dying triple amputee with one leg. As she becomes drawn into his mad world, the nightmare begins to engulf her.

These novellas are haunting and certainly set the stage for Yoko Ogawa’s later work with three alienated “watchers” whose emotions simmer beneath the surface.
Profile Image for Mimi.
699 reviews199 followers
December 5, 2021
If I had to sum up what this year has been like for me, I would say the feeling of living through it is like what sitting on a chair at the bottom of a swimming pool by yourself must feel like. Good place to have a think, at the bottom of a pool, I'd imagine. That's not what this collection of stories is about though.

This collection of stories is about the internalized, perplexing feelings you are plagued with when you have feelings that go against who you are as a person to you and who you are as a person to everyone around you. When you follow through with these feelings, they can lead you to act in various destructive ways, resulting in irreparable damage. It's an interesting, complex meditation on the self, identity, dissociation, mental breaks, internal implosion, and many other disquieting things, set against a series of ordinary everyday life situations.

The tight, condensed prose is what keeps the stories from veering off course and your attention from straying from the scenes unfolding before you. It's the strength and control in the writing (and translation) that keeps these stories relevant and grounded in reality, instead of being a series of descents into madness.

Not a book I'd recommend for the best of times, so certainly not for these trying times, but I liked it. It gave me something to think about and kept me from doomscrolling late into the night this past summer.

Yoko Ogawa's range (and Stephen Snyder's as well) as a writer is quite admirable. I went from The Housekeeper and the Professor to these stories, which are quite different in contrast, in a short span of time, and they left me in awe of her command of the short format and her acute sense of plotting. She definitely knows how to make an impact in just a few pages.

The three novellas in this collection are:
- The Diving Pool
- Pregnancy Diary
- Dormitory
Profile Image for Melissa Chung.
904 reviews326 followers
April 26, 2020
This is book number four today that I’ve read fir the dewey 24 hour readathon and I have to say it was a strange one. This book isa collection of three novellas. Out of the three I enjoyed the diving pool best.

The Diving Pool is about a girl whose parents run a church and orphanage. The girl resents being the only non orphan and finds her parents intolerable. A quote that sums up the short story is this...”My desires seemed simple and terribly complicated at the same time: to gaze at Jun’s wet body and to make Rie cry. These were the only things that gave me comfort.” It was such a strange story.

The reason I like Yoko Ogawa and her writing is that it slowly creeps up on you. Everything that is written is mundane, yet sinister. Like every day life is always lurking behind you in some kind of off way.

All three stories had something slightly off. The main character had a darkness about them. InThe Diving Pool the protagonist was a bit more creepy than the other two... but they were easily manipulated. Their surroundings spoiled their moral compass just slightly. Its like when you are playing with a sibling a bit to roughly and they get hurt. Ogawa’s characters secretly like the fact the siblings got hurt and wished for it to happen again.
Profile Image for Marwa Mohamed.
396 reviews192 followers
December 24, 2018
تدور أحداث القصة عن ابنة مدير لإحدى دور الأيتام تعيش حياتها اليومية مع أولاد المؤسسة، كأنها هي أيضاً يتيمة مثلهم وليس لديها أسرة، تمضي أوقاتها حول متعتين تستعين بهما على تعويض الفراغ الذي يسيطير علي حياتها وهو مراقبة مراهق خلال تمارينه على رياضة الغطس في حوض السباحة، والتنمر علي طفلة لم يتجاوز عمرها عاماً ونصف.

أنها قصة صغيرة من الأدب الياباني الذي لم يخيب ظني أبدًا ، لكن مع الأسف هذه المره خاب ظني قليلًا ، القصة في بدايتها كانت ممله جدًا ، علي الرغم من ذلك أسلوب الكاتبة في وصف المشاهد رائع جدًا فهي تصف بأسهاب رائع ومتميز المكان والوقت والطقس ، عندما تقرأ تلك النوفيلا سوف يثير أشمئزازك جدًا تصرفا�� بطلتها التي تستمع جدًا بالتنمر علي طفلة صغيرة والأستمتاع ببكائها .
هذة النوفيلا تصور النفس البشرية بما تعانيه من أمراض نفسية وتفكير سئ وظلام داخلي .
رواية صغيرة لكنها كانت مملة بعض الشئ رغم طرحها وفكرتها الغريبة .
Profile Image for Huy.
772 reviews
April 25, 2020
11 năm sau đọc lại cuốn này bỗng thấy thích quá, không hiểu sao lúc trước đọc không thấy gì đặc biệt. 3 truyện ngắn trong cuốn này đều có vẻ tĩnh lặng một cách kỳ quặc, bởi vì ẩn sâu bên trong đó là nỗi bất an khó tả, dưới cái dáng vẻ bình yên thơ mộng của câu chuyện là một nỗi kinh hãi mơ hồ được viết với sự tinh tế và sắc bén của một nhà văn có phong cách rất riêng với sự chính xác trong việc gieo vào đầu người đọc những tưởng tượng và khai phá góc khuất của những người phụ nữ.
Và bản tiếng Việt và tiếng Anh của cuốn này thật ra có 1 truyện không giống nha, bản tiếng Việt là "Nhà ăn buổi chiều ta và bể bơi dưới mưa" còn bản Anh là "The Diving Pool" nên tính ra có thể đọc được tận 4 truyện ngắn tất thảy.
Profile Image for Ahmed Jaber.
Author 5 books1,689 followers
September 24, 2016

غريبة، ومخالفة لما هو عادي، فتاة لوالدين يديران ملجأ للأيتام، وهي تعيش بينهم، وتتعايش على عدمية وجودهما، أي أنها يتيمة كباقي زملائها، تعجب بشاب أشد الإعجاب، تفتن بجسده، وتدقق في تفاصيله أكثر مما هو يدقق فيه، لكنّها من زاوية أخرى، تعذب طفلة أو بالأحرى تتلذذ في سماع بكائها، وتتسبب عن قصد أو بغير قصد في تسميمها.

إنها قصة التناقض في النظر إلى الكائن البشري، رغم أن العين واحدة، أما حوض السباحة فهو الشاهد الوحيد على كل ما سيحصل أو حصل من جريمة بين العاشقين الجدد.

Profile Image for Odai Al-Saeed.
876 reviews2,488 followers
December 29, 2018
ليس هناك الكثير ليذكر وقد تروق الرواية للبعض الآخر
الروائية اليابانية إشتهرت بذلك النمط القصير من الروايات الذي يعتمد بشكل كبير على الحساسية المفرطة من خلال الأحداث البسيطة ويشابهها في ذلك الكثير من الكتاب اليابانيين كونه أسلوب حياة نمطي يستدعي اللجوء لهكذا حالة لذا
حالة من الرتم الإيقاعي البطيئ تستدرجك للتأمل بأسلوب خاص لا يمكن أن ترتجي منه إثارة وأحداث بسيطة تغزل سرد منغمس بالمشاعر الغريبة البسيطة ...جيدة
Profile Image for lavenderews.
587 reviews750 followers
September 8, 2023
Nie będzie to moja książka Ogawy, ale było w niej wiele wyjątkowych dla mnie fragmentów.
Profile Image for Miriam Cihodariu.
577 reviews124 followers
November 13, 2018
Another read from Ogawa, and I continue to like her style overall. It is indeed what people would call 'disturbing', since it voices the inner thoughts and desires that don't do people much honor.

A teenager in love with her adoptive brother likes to take out her frustrations on a baby sister, by torturing her, as long as no marks of her activities remain.

A woman studies her sister's pregnancy with a semi-fascinated and semi-disgusted eye as if studying some alien manifestation.

Another woman takes refuge in caring for her younger cousin and for her former college dormitory's master, just to escape her husband's requests to take steps towards emigration to Sweden. This third tale seems to be the only one not focused on exploring these dark impulses within human nature. Instead, it's hauntingly beautiful and with the occasional thrill pangs.

A small excerpt from the first tale:
"I've seen pictures from underwater cameras. The frame is completely filled with deep blue water, and then the diver shoots down, only to turn at the bottom and kick off back toward the surface. This underwater pivot is even more beautiful than the dive itself: the ankles and hands slice through the water majestically, and the body is completely enclosed in the purity of the pool. When the women dive, their hair flutters underwater as though lifted in a breeze, and they all look so peaceful, like children doing deep-breathing exercises.
One after the other, the divers come slipping into the water, making their graceful arcs in front of the camera. I would like them to move more slowly, to stay longer, but after a few seconds their heads appear again above the surface.
Does Jun let his body float free at the bottom of the pool, like a fetus in its mother's womb? How I'd love to watch him to my heart's content as he drifts there, utterly free."
Profile Image for Faye.
429 reviews47 followers
May 23, 2019
First read: November 2016
Rating: DNF at 6%
I wasn't in the right mood to read this a few years ago so I abandoned it then. I'm hoping I enjoy it more now!

Re-read: May 2019

The Diving Pool - 2.5/5 stars
Pregnancy Diary - 4/5 stars
Dormitory - 4.5/5 stars

I really liked the second and third stories in this collection, which I read for the first time. The Diving Pool is definitely my least favourite as the narrator is such an awful human being it makes the story hard to read. Dormitory was an absolute favourite; dark and almost gothic, part murder mystey and part supernatural. I wanted it to be longer!
Overall rating: 4/5 stars
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