book reviews

BOOK REVIEWS Courtesy of Beaverdale Books

‘The Street of a Thousand Blossoms’

By Gail Tsukiyama
St Martin’s Press
Pub Date: 8/5/08
422 pp

If someone had told me I was about to read a book about war and sumo wrestling, I probably would have said, “No thanks,” So I hope you’ll trust me when I say, “Go ahead and read it anyway; you’ll be delighted.”

“The Street of a Thousand Blossoms” is the story of two brothers who come of age in Japan during World War II. This book is about men living life — moving from boyhood to manhood, struggling with trials and heartbreaks, and enjoying the small victories life offers. As their lives are affected by the war, we are able to see what Japan and its people went through from a very intimate perspective.

The story follows the brothers for 30 years. Kenji becomes an artist, making masks for Japan’s famous Noh Theater. His older brother Hiroshi becomes a powerful and famous Sumo wrestler. “… his youthful agility had rekindled a national passion for sumo wrestling. In a country devastated by atomic bombs that flattened cities and scarred their spirits, Hiroshi’s speed and strength had helped to revive the pride of his nation with every victory.”

Tsukiyama’s language, characterization and storytelling is detailed and delicate. This is a wonderfully interesting story about culture and people. It is well worth the read. CV — Review by Laura Flaugher

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