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Thousand Cranes, By Yasunari Kawabata

Reviewed,Boyd Tonkin
Friday 18 March 2011 01:00 GMT

Enter and explore a literary habitat like no other with Penguin's four classic volumes of quietly devastating fiction by Japan's Nobel laureate.

A perfect place to begin, Thousand Cranes (translated by Edward G Seidensticker) appeared in 1958 and helped spread Kawabata's fame abroad.

Behind a lyrical and understated surface, chaotic passions pulse as young Kikuji becomes entangled with two of his late father's mistresses.

From their "other world", the dead come to haunt and rule the living. As Kikuji wrestles with the claims of pitiable Mrs Ota and the tough survivor Chikako, the rituals and vessels of the tea ceremony symbolically enact the guilt, grief and longing of these stranded souls.

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