ANATAHAN by Michiro Maruyama


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The account of the famous Japanese 7-year marooning on Anatahan Island near Saipan takes a frank look at emotional and physical humanity in the raw, but proves disappointing as a literary venture. Perhaps some of the impact has been lost in translation, though this version by Dr. Younghill Kang reads smoothly. What bothers one is the chronological piling of incident upon incident, which demands more enthusiasm and insight than Mr. Maruyama's rather prosaic style seems to offer. Briefly the thread of the adventure is this. The author and about twenty shipmates were shipwrecked on the island in 1944- many wounded and all at the mercy of nature. Maruyama, as the philosopher of the group, recounts how they survived various horrors and found food and shelter. He recounts too the relationships between the men, governed by their own personalities in different surroundings and as they climaxed in rivalry over the only woman on the island. Already an inhabitant of the island, Keiko lived with her husband Kusakabe, but husband or no, the pressure put on her by some of the other men led to events that caused death after death. Final rescue in 1951 brought the shock of realizing Japan had been conquered. A stark story that is a sincere, if laboured, picture of man in dire circumstances.

Pub Date: April 19th, 1954
Publisher: Hermitage House