Riding The East Wind ($28.00; Nov.; 520 pp.; 4-7700-2049-X). Leaden dialogue is the only significant flaw in this otherwise absorbing saga, first published in 1982, by a veteran Japanese novelist whose skillful fusion of literary and popular fictional elements is reminiscent of Herman Wouk and James Michener at their best. In Levy's workmanlike translation, Kaga's replete novel offers a convincingly detailed picture of urban Japan on the eve of WWII, while focusing memorably on three members of a deeply conflicted family: diplomat Suburo Kurushima, who arrives in Washington on a peace-seeking mission just as the bombs are falling on Pearl Harbor; his fully Easternized, American-born wife Alice; and their son, Ken, an idealistic aeronautical engineer whose skills and vision are co-opted and corrupted by Japan's vainglorious military bureaucracy. A familiar story, movingly retold in a way that will be new to American readers.
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