A Personal Matter

From Academic Kids

Note: all Japanese names in this article are given in Western order, with surname last and given name first

A Personal Matter (個人的な体験, Kojinteki na taiken) is a novel by Japanese writer Kenzaburo Oe (大江 健三郎 Ōe Kenzaburō). The novel is replete with imagery of death, decay and sex.

Written in 1964, the novel is dark, deeply personal, and semi-autobiographical. It tells the story of Bird, a man who must come to terms with the birth of his mentally disabled son.

Bird's son, like Oe's, was born with a brain hernia. Bird tries to escape his responsibility for the child, turning to alcohol and an old girlfriend. He must decide whether to let the child live.

Though the novel has a "happy" end, it should be considered in juxtaposition with the story Aghwee the Sky Monster (also by Oe), in which a father faced with a similar decision makes a different choice (as of this writing Oe's son, Hikari Oe is still alive, and despite his disability has made something of a name for himself in Japan with his musical compositions).

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