Yasunari Kawabata: The Master of Go

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This novel by Nobelist Yasunari Kawabata is a mixture of real-world events and fiction: it is a description of a real-world Go match, fought in 1938 between Honinbo Shusai and Minoru Kitani. Kawabata was present at the game, reporting it to the newspaper that had organized the match. In this book, Kawabata has taken certain liberties, though: some names and events have been changed, there's a dose of fiction in the story.

Fiction or not, it is a beautiful story. Kawabata's style is subtle and even though not much happens in the book, it is an intriguing tale that hooks the reader as the events unfold both on the Go board and outside it. The Go match is in the focus, yet at the same time Kawabata offers so much more: the clash between tradition and modern rationalism and the struggle between two strong personalities.

I don't know how much one can enjoy the book without any knowledge of Go. Go was the reason I read this book, and I was satisfied - the match was very central to the story. The story is, however, very beautiful and Kawabata - or at least the translator Edward Seidensticker - knows his way with words, so it was a pleasure to read, Go or no Go. [ The Master of Go at Amazon.co.uk ]The Master of Go at LibraryThing ]

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