Philadelphia Inquirer // The Changeling by Kenzaburo Oe
My review of Oe’s The Changeling ran today in the Philadelphia Inquirer today. It’s always cool to write for the paper I grew up reading and which my parents still get delivered.
The Changeling seems to invite the comparison. In The Silent Cry, published in 1967, the main character’s best friend has painted his face red, inserted a cucumber where the rising sun don’t shine, and committed suicide. While that strange act isn’t central to the plot, the psychic ramifications inform everything that happens in the novel.Fast-forward 43 years. (Do we still fast-forward?) The Changeling begins with the news that the close friend of the narrator, Kogito, has killed himself. This time, that tragedy becomes more central to the goings-on, to such an extent that what little plot there is feels almost irrelevant. Linearity isn’t really the point here.