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Junichiro Tanizaki’s Naomi is both a hilarious story of one man’s obsession and a brilliant reckoning of a nation’s cultural confusion.
When twenty-eight-year-old Joji first lays eyes upon the teenage waitress Naomi, he is instantly smitten by her exotic, almost Western appearance. Determined to transform her into the perfect wife and to whisk her away from the seamy underbelly of post-World War I Tokyo, Joji adopts and ultimately marries Naomi, paying for English and music lessons that promise to mold her into his ideal companion. But as she grows older, Joji discovers that Naomi is far from the naïve girl of his fantasies. And, in Tanizaki’s masterpiece of lurid obsession, passion quickly descends into comically helpless masochism.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375724749
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/10/2001
Series: Vintage International Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 343,335
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.60(d)
Lexile: 820L (what's this?)

About the Author

Junichiro Tanizaki was born in Tokyo in 1886 and lived in the city until the earthquake of 1923, when he moved to the Kyoto-Osaka region, the scene of one of his most well-known novels, The Makioka Sisters (1943-48). The author of over twenty books, including Naomi (1924), Some Prefer Nettles (1928), Arrowroot (1931), and A Portrait of Shunkin (1933), Tanizaki also published translations of the Japanese classic, The Tale of Genji in 1941, 1954, and 1965. Several of his novels, including Quicksand (1930), The Key (1956), and Diary of a Mad Old Man (1961) were made into movies. He was awarded Japan’s Imperial Prize in Literature in 1949, and in 1965 he became the first Japanese writer to be elected as an honorary member of the American Academy and the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Tanizaki died in 1965.

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Naomi 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
poetontheone on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Being his first novel, Tanizaki's Naomi is a surprisingly masterful tale of a man obsessed and manipulated, a tale of imminent decline. The protagonist Joji takes fiteen year old Naomi under his wing, and the two soon strike up a passionate love affair, with Joji at the ready to cater to Naomi's every desire. We see that most of the love, with any authenticity, is one sided. As the story advances, Naomi becomes less childish and more beguiling, more bewitching in the best and worst ways. Tanizaki uses her deceitful character as the perfect springboard to create a thick plot of growing, but subtle mystery entwined in powerfully lyrical prose. Most of the time, pitiful Joji can't even tell how badly he is being fooled. Even if he knows he is deceived, he thinks he might gain the upper hand and assert his dominance over Naomi. Tanizaki, with such grand skill as a storyteller, fools us into thinking the same. The character of Naomi, for all of her charms, is more reminiscent of Sacher-Masoch's Wanda than Nabokov's Lolita. Joji, at the end, is a castrated dog, and we as readers come to realize the power that deception wields within the realms of lust, love, and passion.
kidzdoc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Naomi was the first major work by Jun'ichir¿ Tanizaki (1886-1965), who was one of the leading 20th century Japanese novelists. It was written in the aftermath of the 1923 Great Kant¿ Earthquake that decimated Tokyo and Yokohama, where Tanizaki was living, an event which marked a turning point in his life and writing. Before the earthquake Tanizaki was enamored of Western culture, with its modernity and freedom of expression; in its aftermath he began to appreciate the traditional Japanese customs and values of his childhood, which continued throughout the rest of his life.Naomi, also known as "A Fool's Love", was initially published in serial form in 1924, and was highly controversial at that time, due to its depiction of Naomi's promiscuity and nontraditional behaviors. As a result, it was not published as a novel until the end of World War II. It has remained in print since its release in 1947, and it remains one of the best selling Japanese novels of the 20th century, both within and outside of the country.The subject of the novel is a 15 year old girl from a dodgy family who works as a café hostess in 1920s Tokyo. One of her customers is the 28 year old Joji, the narrator of the story, an electrical engineer who describes himself as a country bumpkin, awkward but attractive to most women. Joji respects the traditions of Japanese culture, but dislikes the intricacies of courtship and marriage. He wishes to live with a woman who is beautiful by Western standards and modern, one who can speak English fluently and has an intelligent, analytical mind. Joji is enraptured by Naomi, with her Western name, Eurasian features and free spirit, and she agrees to live with him as his "maid", while he pays for her classes in English and Western music. He seeks to mold her in the fashion of his ideal wife, but Naomi becomes an indifferent pupil, as she develops a taste for fine clothes, restaurants and the company of young men. The two fall in love, and "marry" the following year. However, as Naomi flowers into womanhood, she becomes more manipulative and brazen, as she realizes the power she holds over Joji and other men who desire her. Joji's life spirals out of control, as he spends every spare dollar meeting her increasing demands, and takes more time off from work to follow the movements of his promiscuous wife. Eventually he throws her out, but he quickly realizes that he cannot live without her.Naomi is an important novel about the conflict between traditional Japanese and Western values in 1920s Japan, as it reflects the changes in Japanese society before World War II and in the author. Tanizaki is believed to have based the subject of his novel on his Westernized sister-in-law, with whom he was enamored; he found his first wife to be too traditional and restrained. It is a straightforward and enjoyable read, although this reader frequently wished to give Joji a spine transplant.
jburlinson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A kind of Japanese Sister Carrie, this tale of sex addiction would, I believe, have been more compelling if there hadn¿t been such a pronounced parallel between the progressive degradation of the narrator (who is transformed from the stuffed shirt ¿Joji¿ to the contemptible ¿George¿) and the degeneration, culturally, aesthetically and morally, of Japan, as it, putatively, became more ¿westernized¿ in the period after WWI. But Tanizaki does understand perversity and he can communicate fetishism with conviction. If the word ¿nape¿ gives you a tingle, prepare yourself!
Niecierpek on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Perils of westernization and one man's obsession in the 1920s Tokyo, with a humorous and mildly contrary twist. Somewhat akin to Lolita. I found the preface by the translator to my edition almost as interesting as the book itself.
satyreyes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the elite few on my Shelf Of Pain, which contains the books that sucker-punch me, that hurt, that make me cry, and make me like it. Tanizaki is a frigging genius, and I need to read more of his books, and maybe check out some Natsume while I'm at it. The central questions -- how powerful is female allure? what does it mean to be enslaved? -- are questions with a lot of resonance for me.
fairbrook on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A nice read, though i kept wincing at how naive the main character was....time after time...this is a story about a bored japanese businessman who struck up a fancy with an innocent (haahaaaaa) japanese cafe girl....became obsessed with her and put on her his obsession with the "western ideal" which eventually became his ruin....she would drift from him...but he never seemed to waver from her more than just a cursory hurt......his obsessions were pitiful.....he would find out her infidelities then demand that she leave then pine for her.......i will not give away the end.....
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