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Having just read Mishima's surprisingly sweet Sound of Waves, this more cynical novel of marriage and politics is more what one would expect. The story is loosely based on an actual politician of the day and his relationship with a nightclub hostess, but not so loose as to avoid one of Japan's first major invasion of privacy lawsuits.

In this telling, an older politician's career has hit a dead end because his rigidity led him out of the powerful conservative party. But, Noguchi, the former government minister still frequents a banquet hall with friends from his old party. Dinners are hosted by the middle-aged owner, Kazu, who has worked her way up to wealthy respectability from lowly beginnings. Her energy and ample charms make her and her establishment popular. She comes to see a marriage to Noguchi as the natural capstone to her climb, a chance to be remembered when she's gone...
Now I’m sure to be buried in the grave of the Noguchi family! At last I’ve found some peace of mind!
...while he views her as a comfortable partner for his twilight years. Both have miscalculated horribly.

Kazu promptly begins scheming to get Noguchi back into politics and not only expends much of her fortune on the race (including selling the restaurant), but essentially serves as his surrogate on the campaign trail, engaging in the sort of flesh-pressing and salesmanship that comes naturally to her but is foreign to her now husband. Her very obviousness is a weird sort of asset:
Each activity of this kind Kazu participated in, each disbursement of her money, was based on cool calculation, and however spontaneous an expression of human kindness it might appear, her purpose was invariably the same; to use people in order to win the election. Such was Kazu's deliberate intent, but she did not reckon on the powerful impression which her self-sacrificing enthusiasm readily produced on people. She would laugh in her sleeve when she listened to people who had genuinely been moved, but when she discovered that some people were saying that she was devoid of honest feelings and governed entirely by calculated expedience, she was furious that her motives should be so misunderstood. This was one respect in which Kazu's psychology was surprisingly complicated.

One thing Kazu herself failed to anticipate was that her tactics, despite their simple hypocrisy, would prove the major reason that audiences loved her. What Kazu imagined to be her calculation proved to be a kind of sincerity, a sincerity with a peculiar attraction for the masses. Regardless of her motives, her devotion and fervor had the special property of ingratiating her with the people.
Initially, her efforts and that unusual appeal so overwhelm the race that Noguchi's semi-outsider status appears possible to overcome, but once his former party begins to take the threat seriously they resort to political hardball, including producing a man from Kazu's past willing to portray her is little more than a whore. Noguchi, a reluctant candidate in the first place, is infuriated as his reputation is besmirched by hers. The fact of her ambition is simply too much for a marriage that he hoped would offer quietude. They separate and she uses her street smarts to get the conservative party to help her buy back the banquet hall.

Perhaps Mishima saw himself as Noguchi, a rigid moralist, who wanted to be a Kazu, with a natural appeal to the masses and an unblushing appetite for modern politics? If so, his recognition that the two are incompatible would have contributed to his ludicrous decision to try to seize power and topple the regime violently instead of pursuing a path consistent with Japan's modern politics. Had he instead learned to moderate the aspects of these two characters his own story might not have ended in such catastrophe.


Grade: (B)


See also:

Yukio Mishima (3 books reviewed)
Asian Literature
Yukio Mishima Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Yukio Mishima
    -ENTRY: Yukio Mishima (1925-1970) - Pseudonym for Hiraoka Kimitake (Books & Writers)
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Yukio Mishima (IMDB)
    -ENTRY: Mishima Yukio: Japanese author (Encyclopaedia Britannica)
    -ENTRY: Yukio Mishima (Japan Visitor)
    -ENTRY: Mishima Yukio (New World Encyclopedia)
    -Featured Author: Yukio Mishima (With News and Reviews From the Archives of The New York Times)
    -EXCERPT: from Life for Sale by Yukio Mishima
    -EXCERPT: from Star: Yukio Mishima on the Beautiful Death of James Dean (Yukio Mishima)
    -BOOK SITE: The Sound of Waves (Penguin Random House)
    -WIKIPEDIA: The Sound of Waves
    -STUDY GUIDE: The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima (Grade Saver)
    -STUDY GUIDE: Sound of Waves (Lit Charts)
    -STUDY GUIDE: Sound of Waves (IB English)
    -STUDY GUIDE: Sound of Waves (eNotes)
    -STUDY GUIDE: Sound of Waves (
    -ESSAY: The men who worship Yukio Mishima: Bodybuilders are in love with an unattainable goal (OLIVER BATEMAN, 12/16/22, UnHerd)
    -ESSAY: Kamikaze of Beauty: On Yukio Mishima’s Sun and Steel (Brian Patrick Eha, tHE pOINT)
    -VIDEO: Legendary Japanese Author Yukio Mishima Muses About the Samurai Code (Which Inspired His Hapless 1970 Coup Attempt) (Open Culture)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: Yukio Mishima: Japanese novelist Yukio Mishima discusses his thirteenth novel The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea, first published in English in 1966, with host Warren Bower. Mishima also shares his thoughts about Japanese literature and the high readership of American literature in his home country. (The NYPR Archive Collections, Oct 25, 1965, WNYC)
    -VIDEO INTERVIEW: Yukio Mishima....Rare 1969 Interview In English: In a rare interview in colour that he gave to Canadian television in 1969, Mishima discusses the subject of Japanese nationalism and gives us his views on the prospect of the re-militarisation of the country.
    -PODCAST: Grappling with Yukio Mishima’s Murderous Children (Lit Century, June 15, 2021)
    -ESSAY: Japan’s most famous writer committed suicide after a failed coup attempt – now, new photos add more layers to the haunting act (Kirsten Cather, January 11, 2021, The Conversation)
    -ESSAY: Yukio Mishima: The strange tale of Japan’s infamous novelist (Thomas Graham, 24th November 2020, BBC)
    -ESSAY: A fanatic heart: On the 50th anniversary of his public suicide, Nigel Jones reflects on the strange life and bizarre death of the Japanese writer Yukio Mishima (Nigel Jones, 11/25/20, The Critic)
    -ESSAY: Yukio Mishima: The Turbulent Life Of A Conflicted Martyr (Beryl Belsky, 29 September 2016, Culture Trip)
    -ESSAY: Yukio Mishima – 'The Lost Samurai' (Japan Today, Jan. 12, 2014)
    -ESSAY: Yukio Mishima's enduring, unexpected influence: As the country marks the 45th anniversary of the prolific postwar novelist’s death this week, we take a step back (DAMIAN FLANAGAN, 11/21/15, THE JAPAN TIMES)
    -VIDEO INTERVIEW: Paul Schrader Discusses Yukio Mishima (The Dick Cavett Show, 11/25/1985)
    -VIDEO: The Strange Case of Yukio Mishima (BBC - Arena, 1985)
    -ESSAY: Blood and guts: Yukio Mishima's very public suicide fixed his image as a fascist fanatic. There was much more to the writer (Hywel Williams, Sun 24 Jun 2001, The Guardian)
    -ESSAY: Dead writer's knife is in Japan's heart Jonathan Watts, 24 Nov 2000, The Guardian)
-ESSAY: The Importance of Being Mishima Yukio (Damian Flanagan, Nov 24, 2017,
    -ESSAY: The Resurgence of a Japanese Literary Master: Fifty years after his death, Yukio Mishima is reemerging in translation (ERIC MARGOLIS, 7/31/20, Metropolis)
    -ESSAY: Yukio Mishima: Japan’s Cultural Martyr (Andrew Rankin, December 11, 2019, Quillette)
    -ESSAY: The life and death of Yukio Mishima: A tale of astonishing elegance and emotional brutality: A novel by one of Japan’s most revered writers is to be published in English for the first time. But the facts surrounding Yukio Mishima are almost stranger than fiction (David Barnett, 7/25/19, Independent)
    -ESSAY: Yukio Mishima in Ichigaya (Anna Sherman, August 20, 2019, Paris Review)
    -ARTICLE: Restored Footage at Centre of ‘Mishima’ Documentary on Controversial Literary Figure (Patrick Frater, Jan 8, 2020, Variety)
    -ESSAY: A Thing for Men in Uniforms: If fascism has had an allure for some gay men, it is anti-egalitarianism that provides the connective tissue—the belief that homosexuality belongs to an elite caste, an exclusive fraternity existing above the heterosexual masses and destined for greatness (James Kirchick, May 14, 2018, NY Review of Books)
    -ESSAY: Comment (E. J. Kahn and Frank Conroy, December 5, 1970, The New Yorker)
    -ESSAY: Yukio Mishima: Dialectics of Mind and Body (Dick Wagenaar and Yoshio Iwamoto, Winter 1975, Contemporary Literature)
    -ESSAY: Why we should read Yukio Mishima (Xi Chen, Feb 19, 2018·, Medium)
    -ESSAY: Portrait of the Author as a Historian: Yukio Mishima: Angered by his native country’s rush towards western-style modernisation, the acclaimed Japanese author committed a shocking act of protest. (Alexander Lee , 4/04/17, History Today)
    -ESSAY: When the Emperor Is a Void: Yukio Mishima and Fascism Today: Mishima’s Patriotism reveals the drives operating behind political movements and how ultranationalistic ideas become deeply entangled in the personal (Julia Shiota, the Margins)
    -ESSAY: The Essence of our Era: Yukio Mishima, Steve Bannon, and the Alt-Right (Europe Now)
    -ESSAY: Edging Toward Japan: Yukio Mishima's intriguing letters to a humble lighthouse worker (Damian Flanagan, April 21, 2020, Mainichi Japan)
    -ESSAY: Mishima Yukio: Everyone’s Favorite Homofascist (Vincent James Keith, 2013, Multitudes)
    -ESSAY: The Narcissism and Death of Yukio Mishima –From the Object Relational Point of View (Sadanobu Ushijima M.D, December 1987, Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences)
    -ESSAY: Primal Scene Derivatives in the Work of Yukio Mishima: The Primal Scene Fantasy (Ronald N. Turco, 2002, Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis)
    -ESSAY: Overcoming Modernity in Yukio Mishima (Joseph Verbovszky, DISCUSSIONS)
    -ESSAY: MISHIMA’S SUICIDE (JEFFREY MEYERS, Fall 2010, Michigan Quarterly Review)
    -ESSAY: In the Fascist Weight Room: 1968’s dangerous and grandiose fantasies (ELIZABETH SCHAMBELAN, Book Forum)
    -DISSERTATION: Craving for the absolute: The sublime and the tragic in Mishima Yukio's theatrical works (Yoshie Endo, University of Pennsylvania)
    -ESSAY: Yukio Mishima: Silk and Insight (Bill Lipsky, SF Bay City Times)
    -ESSAY: The Curious Case of Yukio Mishima (George Mullins, 9 April, 2018, The Bubble)
    -ARCHIVES: Mishima (Mainichi)
    -REVIEW ARCHIVES: Yukio Mishima (Publishers weekly)
    -REVIEW ARCHIVES: Yukio Mishima (Kirkus)
    -VIDEO ARCHIVES: Yukio Mishima (You Tube)
    -PODCAST REVIEW: #64- Transmitting Culture in Mishima's The Sound of Waves: This week, Scott and Karl read The Sound of Waves, a 1954 novel by the Japanese author Yukio Mishima (Great Books, Mar 27, 2020)
    -REVIEW: of The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima (edmund Fuller, August 19, 1956, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Sound of Waves (Iain Maloney, Japan Times)
    -REVIEW: of Sound of Waves (Kirkus)
    -REVIEW: of Sound of Waves (Kevin Jae, Medium: Classic World Literature Book Reviews)
    -REVIEW: of Sound of Waves (Notes Taken)
    -REVIEW: of Sound of Waves (Tony's Reading List)
    -REVIEW: of Sound of Waves (50 Books Project)
    -PODCAST REVIEW: The Sound of Waves (Book Talk with Jordan Owen and Stefan Di Iorio)
    -REVIEW: of Sound of Waves (Vishy's Blog)
    -REVIEW: of Sound of Waves (Winstonsdad's Blog)
    -REVIEW: of Sound of Waves (Pikes Peak Library teens)
    -REVIEW: of Sound of Waves (Danny Yee, Danny's Book reviews)
    -REVIEW: of Sound of Waves (AQ'S Reviews)
    -REVIEW: of Sound of Waves (A Reader of Literature)
    -REVIEW: of Sound of Waves (Profesorbaker's Worldwide Bilingual Blog)
    -REVIEW: of The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima (Kevin Jae, Medium: Classic World Literature Book Reviews)
    -REVIEW: of Star by Yukio Mishima (Jan Wilm, LA Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Star (Daniel Felsenthal, Kenyon Review)
    -REVIEW: of Star (Jeff Heinzl, Spectrum Culture)
    -REVIEW: of Star (Hans Rollmann, Pop Matters)
    -REVIEW: of The Sea of Fertility tetralogy by Yukio Mishima (Richard T Kelly, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Sea of Fertility (80 Books blog)
    -REVIEW: of The Frolic of the Beasts by Yukio Mishima (John Nathan, NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima (Andrew Brookins, Powells)
    -REVIEW: of Sun and Steel by Yukio Mishima (Gore Vidal, NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Life for Sale by Yukio Mishima (Complete Review)
    -REVIEW: of Life for Sale by Yukio Mishima (James Smart, The guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Life for Sale (John Williams, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: Life for Sale: Yukio Mishima’s dark fantasies of imperial Japan (John Gray, New Statesman)
    -REVIEW: of Life for Sale (NY Journal of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Life for Sale (Andrew Taylor, The Spectator)
    -REVIEW: of Life for Sale (Ian Thompson, Evening Standard)
    -REVIEW: of Life for Sale (Angus Brown, Oxford Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Life for Sale (Boyd Tonkin, Times uk)
    -REVIEW: of Mario Bellatin’s "Mishima’s Illustrated Biography" (Jeffrey Zuckerman, LA Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Mishima's Sword: Travels in Search of a Samurai Legend by Christopher Ross (Anthony Thwaite, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Mishima’s Sword (Victoria James, New Statesman)
    -REVIEW: ofPersona: A biography of Yukio Mishima by Naoki Inose (Paul McCarthy, Japan Times)
    -REVIEW: of Persona (Allan Massie, WSJ)
    -REVIEW: of Persona (Three Percent)


    -FILMOGRAPHY: Yukio Mishima (IMDB)
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Shiosai (1985) (IMDB)
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (IMDB)
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Mishima: A Life in Four Chapers (Rotten Tomatoes)
    -FILM REVIEW: Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian)
    -FILM REVIEW: Mishima (Phillip French, The Observer)
    -FILM REVIEW: Mishima (Alex Lindstrom, Pop Matters)
    -FILM REVIEW: Mishima (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)
    -FILM REVIEW: Mishima (Ian Buruma, NY Review of Books)
    -FILM REVIEW: Mishima (Michael Sragow, The New Yorker)
    -FILM REVIEW: Mishima (Anthony Lane, The new Yorker)
    -FILM REVIEW: Mishima (Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality & Practice)
    -FILM REVIEW: Mishima (Tom Graham, Little White Lies)
    -FILM REVIEW: Mishima: The Last Debate (James Hadfield, Japan Times)
    -REVIEW: of Last Debate (Philip Brasor)

Book-related and General Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: After the Banquet
    -BOOK SITE: After the Banquet (Penguin Random House)
    -READING GUIDE: After the Banquet (eNotes)
    -READING GUIDE: After the Banquet (Free Book Notes)
    -ESSAY: Three Portraits of Women in Mishima's Novels (Michiko N. Wilson, September 1979, The Journal of the Association of Teachers of Japanese)
    -REVIEW: of After the Banquet by Yukio Mishima (Faubian Bowers, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of After the Banquet (Iain Maloney, Japan Times)
    -REVIEW: of After the Banquet (Sacred Space)
    -REVIEW: of After the Banquet (Kirkus)
    -REVIEW: of After the Banquet (Brilliant Disguises)
    -REVIEW: of After the Banquet (Booker Talk)
    -REVIEW: of After the Banquet (Books and Conversations)
    -REVIEW: of After the Banquet (Japan Kaleidoskop)
    -REVIEW: of After the Banquet (JoV's Book Pyramid)
    -REVIEW: of After the Banquet (ArkDem14, Daily Kos)
    -REVIEW: of After the Banquet (Pine-Scented Chronicles)
    -REVIEW: of After the Banquet (Moving Types)