Yasunari Kawabata

Yasunari Kawabata

Best known in the West for such novels as Snow Country, Beauty and Sadness, and A Thousand Cranes, Yasunari Kawabata was born in Osaka in 1899. In 1968 he became the first Japanese writer to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.


Fiction by Yasunari Kawabata

Translated from the Japanese by Michael Emmerich

A fascinating discovery, Dandelions is Kawabata’s final novel, left incomplete when he committed suicide in 1972. Beautifully spare and deeply strange, Dandelions explores love and madness and consists almost entirely conversations between a woman identified only as Ineko’s mother, and Kuno, a young man who loves Ineko and wants to marry her. The two have left Ineko at the Ikuta Clinic, a mental hospital, which she has entered for treatment of somagnosia, a condition that might be called “seizures of body blindness.…
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If we read Dandelions not as an unfinished masterpiece but as a work in dialogue with the themes of love, desire, and the language beyond language, it feels not broken off but rather open to possibility, trembling with the potential for interpretation. Rather than longing for what lies beyond the final page, we can turn our attention to what has already been presented, however mysteriously, and consider it from different perspectives, as one turns a faceted crystal under a light.
—Larissa Pham, The Nation
A novel about absences, the near impossibility of human connection, the imperfect yet overpowering nature of memory, and the shortcomings of sight. Dandelions intrigues as an unfinished work.
—Will Harrison, The Hudson Review
Kawabata is a poet of the gentlest shades, of the evanescent, the imperceptible.
Yasunari Kawabata’s lusciously peculiar novel Dandelions was unfinished when he took his life in 1972. It’s a story of love and loss and mania, told in sparse, arresting prose.
The Paris Review
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