THE CLOUD AND THE LIGHT: Memoirs of a Japanese Christian Surgeon from Nagasaki by

THE CLOUD AND THE LIGHT: Memoirs of a Japanese Christian Surgeon from Nagasaki

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Sad to say, a clearly good and decent man has produced a tedious, stilted autobiography. A third-year medical student in Nagasaki in August 1945, Kawano was only 700 meters from the epicenter of the explosion from the atom bomb dropped on that city. In the years that followed that horrific event, he became a doctor and a lay preacher, was awarded a scholarship to study tuberculosis in the US, and still later studied neurosurgery in both the US and Germany. After bringing his life story from 1945 up to 1987, by which time he had become a leader of the antismoking movement in Japan, Kawano goes back in time to his lonely boyhood, his religious conversion, his early education, and his army days. The picture that emerges is one of an extraordinarily devout, modest, and hard-working man, easily embarrassed and eager to please. While he seems to have made friends everywhere he went, spending time in Vermont with Maria von Trapp and in Canada and Germany with Albert Schweitzer's granddaughter, his polite descriptions shed little light on these personalities. Originally published in Japan and translated into English by Kawano himself, these memoirs have a flat, wooden quality and often read almost as if written by a very serious child. The author also has a tendency to include extraneous lists, ho-hum statistics, and excerpts from his pamphlets on sex and smoking. The story of how a poor Buddhist baker's son became a devout Christian, a world traveler, and the ""Ben Casey of Nagasaki"" deserves a more skillful telling. Perhaps this was better in the original Japanese. However, its Christian message may be enough to satisfy some, for Kawano believes deeply and tries hard to live his beliefs.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1997
Page count: 293pp
Publisher: Cross Cultural