Black Rain is centered around the story of a young woman who was caught in the radioactive "black rain" that fell after the bombing of Hiroshima. lbuse bases his tale on real-life diaries and interviews with victims of the holocaust; the result is a book that is free from sentimentality yet manages to reveal the magnitude of the human suffering caused by the atom bomb. The life of Yasuko, on whom the black rain fell, is changed forever by periodic bouts of radiation sickness and the suspicion that her future children, too, may be affected.
lbuse tempers the horror of his subject with the gentle humor for which he is famous. His sensitivity to the complex web of emotions in a traditional community torn asunder by this historical event has made Black Rain one of the most acclaimed treatments of the Hiroshima story.
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MASUJI IBUSE was born in Kamo, Hiroshima Prefecture, in 1898. He majored in French at Waseda University and joined the School of Fine Arts to pursue a serious interest in painting. His first story, "Salamander," was published in 1923, when Ibuse was still a student, and by the early 1930s his eloquent use of dialect and his unique prose style had established him as one of the leading figures in the Japanese literary world. In the years since 1938 he has been awarded almost every literary prize in Japan, and on the publication of Black Rain (1966) Ibuse was presented with both the Cultural Medal and Japan's highest literary award, the Noma Prize. Black Rain has been translated into eleven foreign languages.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The countless people who had blackish dried blood clinging to them where it had flowed from their faces onto their shoulders and down their backs, or over their chests and down their bellies. Some were still bleeding, but they seemed to have no energy to do anything about it.
The people staggering along in whatever direction the crowd carried them, their arms dangling purposelessly by their sides.
The people who walked with their eyes shut, swaying to and fro as they were pushed by the crowd.
The woman leading a child by the hand who realized that the child was not hers, shook her hand free with a cry, and ran off. And the child--a boy of six or seven--running, crying plaintively, after her.
The father leading his child by the hand who lost hold of him in the crush. He pushed through the crowd calling the child's name over and again, till finally he was struck brutally and repeatedly by someone he had thrust out of the way.
A middle-aged man carrying an old man on his back.
A man carrying a young girl--an invalid, I should say, and his daughter--on his back.
A woman with her belongings and a child loaded on a baby carriage, who was engulfed in a sudden wave of humanity that crushed the baby carriage and felled her on top of it, so that twenty or thirty others coming behind her toppled like dominoes in their turn. The cries at that moment had to be heard to be believed.
A man who carried, held like an offering before him, a clock that emitted a dull, broken noise as he walked.
A man who carried over his shoulder a fish-basket attached to the cloth case of a fishing rod.
A bare-footed woman shading her eyes with both hands, who sobbed helplessly as she walked.
An elderly man half supporting about the waist, half dragging, a woman whose face, arms, and chest were covered with blood. At each step the man took, the woman's head lolled heavily backwards and forwards or from side to side. Both looked as though they might expire at any moment, but they were jostled mercilessly by the throng.
A young woman who came along almost naked, with a naked baby, its face almost entirely covered with blood, strapped to her back facing to the rear instead of the normal way.
A man whose legs were moving busily as though he were running, but who was so wedged in the wave of humanity that he achieved little more than a rapid mark-time....
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