THE HATEFUL AGE – FUMIO NIWA

 

FUMIO NIWA

In 1947, “The Hateful Age” was a fierce and unprecedented attack of the traditional Japanese veneration of senior citizens. This novel painted a frank picture of senility in all its physical and sociological aspects and made everybody think about aging as an embarrassment, a discomfort and a permanent hassle for the family in charge.

Pitch: Umejo, eighty-six years choose his granddaughter Senko to take care of her during her old age. But after three months, Senko and her husband send “the old owl” to stay with the other daughter Sachiko, who lives in the mountains, in a small village where electricity has not even yet been repaired since the war. Every day is a hard duty…

 

“ Really, Granny, you are cancer. Because you are alone, we, sisters cannot have a good relationship. By the way, even you, wouldn’t have thought that your only role would be to poison our relationship by letting yourself live that long.”

 

That short and realistic novel focuses on a seldom subject. In life, we all face one day or another this problem, whatever our culture. What to do with old family members? Keep them home to respond to a social duty or place them in a nursing home? Above all, these questions relate us to one interrogation: who will take care of us when we become grumpy, senile and useless? Ironically, Niwa himself in his old age suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. His generosity towards his fellow writers was remarkable. He organised a health insurance system for them and bought land for a writers’ graveyard. But, as his health degenerated, he became more and more unpredictable. When his wife started accusing him of past love affairs, he tried to strangle her and died in 2005. In 1947, he was one of the Japan’s most prolific authors (more than 500 Books) unfortunately not all translated.

The Hateful Age – Iyagarase No Nenrei – Niwa Fumio – Publish by Hara Shobo

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