Flowers From Fukushima by Clive Lawton
|Flowers From Fukushima by Clive Lawton|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A haunting story of two survivors in a Japanese post-disaster wasteland. Based on the Fukushima earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown, this is a lovely book, filled with the contradictions of sadness and hope and imbued with Japanese ideas of order and duty. Recommended. Clive Lawton popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 294||Date: April 2013|
|External links: Author's website|
In 2011, Japan was hit by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake. That and the subsequent tsunami caused level 7 meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Flowers from Fukushima riffs on this in a post-apocalyptic story of a Japan devastated by even more and even bigger natural disasters. It follows two main characters as they pick their way through the devastation, each trying to make sense of this new and very different world. Ryo is an eight-year-old boy whose grandmother and guardian died after the earthquake. Ryo is determined to deliver the last order processed by his grandmother at her flower shop. It seems like the right thing to do to a little boy determined to prove he can take responsibility and his odyssey to Kyoto will be full of trials. Makoto has been working for the government in some capacity - we're never sure quite what capacity - but the government, he gradually realises, has abandoned him. So he leaves his tower in the exclusion zone and begins his own journey. He is determined to find out why he has been betrayed. Or at least, that's how it starts. Makoto has a lot to learn, and not just about government secrets.
Eventually, the two journeys collide, and Ryo and Makoto both meet many people along the way. Some kind, some not so kind...
I loved both central characters in this novel. Ryo, straightaway, but Makoto grew on me as I turned the pages. Flowers from Fukushima is a tremendously absorbing read and it's full of accurate research and fascinating detail. People in Japan really did plant sunflowers to try and counteract radiation in the soil as the old man Takano does. They really did collect oysters left inland by the tsunami as Kawabata does. And offers for paid medical trials were sent to foreigners working in Japan at the time - including the author.
As you read, you really feel you get a true picture of what life could be like in a devastated Japan. Most people encountered by Ryo and Makoto are kind and hospitable. Despite the black clouds over Tokyo and the detritus of the lives once lived littered along the roads and in the towns, the land is still beautiful and meaningful. I could see it.
It can be difficult to sift out the rubbish over in the Kindle store, can't it? But there are gems there. And I think Flowers from Fukushima is one of them. It's a haunting story but a lovely one, too, filled with juxtapositions of sadness and joy and despair and hope. Despite the post-apocalyptic setting, it's an affectionate book, imbued with Japanese virtues of politeness, hospitality and duty, and vivid descriptions of beautiful landscapes. I was completely absorbed by it and rather sad when it all came to an end and there was no more to read.
I think you should go and download Flowers from Fukushima. You won't be disappointed.
A moving and thoughtful non-fiction account of the 2011 disaster in Japan is Strong in the Rain: Surviving Japan's Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster by Lucy Birmingham and David McNeill. It's well worth reading.
You can read more book reviews or buy Flowers From Fukushima by Clive Lawton at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Flowers From Fukushima by Clive Lawton at Amazon.com.
You can read more about Clive Lawton here.
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Margaret Wilde said:
I think Jill Murphy's sensitive review of this lovely book is perfect. It is such an uplifting story - a real feel-good read - despite its sombre subject. I fell in love with Ryo as soon as I met him, and greatly admired his resolve and tenacity. And his resilience. What an admirable culture of courtesy, courage and kindness in which to grow up. I cannot think that anyone could read this book without feeling themselves happier and morally enriched by it.