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Black Rain




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About the book:

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 excellent.
John Hersey's immensely moving Hiroshima is the text often burdened with the explication of the atom bomb's terror. Ibuse's Black Rain deserves equal exposure to a Western audience. Based on contemporaneous diary and journal entries of the bombing we follow the principal narrator Shigematsu in the days after the destruction of his home when the black rain threatened and fell. Unbearably poignant, Shigematsu begins re-writing his journal of the events in the hope of securing an engagement for his niece scarred by radiation sickness--
Black Rain is never mawkish nor melodramatic. Its microscopic view initially seems to fail to ask the larger political and moral questions that surely such an atrocity demands but a more nuanced understanding soon dawns: these larger questions cannot be asked of any situation if the more prosaic comprehension of ordinary human misery (and its correlative-- ordinary human pride) is not in some way investigated. Black Rain has an awful beauty. It is a testimony to hope and a disavowal of horror. And it is a feat of writing brilliance. --Mark Thwaite

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