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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Horses, Horses, in the End
the Light Remains Pure

Furukawa Hideo

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To purchase Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure

Title: Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure
Author: Furukawa Hideo
Genre: Novel
Written: 2011 (Eng. 2016)
Length: 147 pages
Original in: Japanese
Availability: Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure - US
Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure - UK
Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure - Canada
Ô chevaux, la lumière est pourtant innocente - France
  • A Tale That Begins with Fukushima
  • Japanese title: 馬たちよ、それでも光は無垢で
  • Translated and with an Afterword by Doug Slaymaker and Akiko Takenaka

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Our Assessment:

B : of great immediacy, for better and worse

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
World Lit. Today . 9-10/2016 Erik R. Lofgren

  From the Reviews:
  • "The narrative voice, well captured in translation, strains to be "edgy" through disjuncture: sentences compromising clipped clauses, terse fragments, words. The sense of fracture permeates the prose, a relentless reminder of the splintered reality born on 3.11 that has forever altered Furukawa’s relationship with his home in Fukushima. (...) (T)he subtitle is particularly apposite, for Furukawa, one of the first authors to write of these disasters, offers no solutions and has only scratched the surface of a far more complex and contentious story-in-the-making." - Erik R. Lofgren, World Literature Today

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The 11 March 2011 Tōhoku earthquake, the tsunami that followed, and the resulting disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant hit particularly close to home for author Furukawa Hideo, who came from Fukushima and still had family in the area when the disaster hit. A month after the earthquake he began writing this work -- initially conceived of as an essay, even though he acknowledges: "Given that I am a novelist, my work is writing novels." He struggles in dealing with the event and the after-effects, personally and professionally:

The current problem is that I am not writing any novels. I can't write.
       He chronicles venturing to the scenes of devastation -- the constant uncertainty about just how dangerous the radiation-threat is, or remains, hovering around him. The scenes are an eerie mix of apparent normalcy and spooky unnaturalness -- as, for example:
     Eventually I knew what it was: not a single bird cry could be heard.
     We had not seen any ghost towns, but we were looking at a ghost nature. We were in a soundless land; we were there.
       He is torn as to how to present his account, anchoring it in the documentary but pulled to the fictional: fiction is what he does:
But if I write that, I've got fiction, and this essay turns into a novel. But I have my integrity to preserve in this; there has not been a single fabrication in what I have written thus far. I may have been hesitant, but no fabrications. By making this essay a definitive "real account," I was hoping for something, for a definitive salvation. Am still hoping, in fact. I am aware that this is a kind of requiem. There are parameters to this. I had my own limits, which, in this case, was "the accumulation" of ninety-plus manuscript pages. Even so, even so ... "Write."
       Written so close to events -- indeed, as in many way events are still unfolding, with a great deal of uncertainty about the potential hazards of the nuclear power plant accident, for example -- Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure is a work of great immediacy. Though Furukawa notes that just as he begins writing, and ventures to the disaster-zone: "we entered a phase more of stagnation than progress. Not a particularly exciting conclusion", his journey -- physical and literary -- soon show that the sense of stagnation is misleading: still waters run deep here.
       Horses do come into play here. As does Furukawa's other writing (too little of which is available in English ...), in relation to and as a counterpart to this more personal and essayistic work.
       So, for example, he notes:
That's the basic premise of The Holy Family. The only way I could achieve, as a novelist, a critique of that official history, outfitted with its filtering systems, was to work with the marginal histories, the suppressed histories. Or this: as a novelist I am able to insert some wild ideas into the assemblage and then call it a work of fiction.
       The author remains at sea here, the proximity of much of this -- visiting the area, speaking with family still there -- still too close as he grapples with it. Geographic distance -- a trip to New York -- proves equally unhelpful and unsettling, not resolving anything.
       For better and worse, Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure is a work of great immediacy, a document of trying to come to (very personal) terms with a situation -- while still very close to it -- that was both overwhelming in its immediate effects -- the devastation of the earthquake and, especially, the tsunami -- but also continues to pose an inscrutable yet potentially much more threatening danger in the form of the unresolved situation with the nuclear power plants.
       Furukawa's creative way of dealing with the subject matter makes for a powerful work -- yet it's hard not to see it also as an interim piece, a study that is a smaller piece of a larger personal œuvre (much of which is, in fact, also addressed here, as Furukawa considers these experiences (and his attempt to write about them) in relation to his work more generally).

- M.A.Orthofer, 1 March 2016

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Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure: Reviews: Furukawa Hideo: Other books by Furukawa Hideo under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Japanese author Furukawa Hideo (古川日出男) was born in 1966.

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