Black Rain: A Novel

"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." (text from Alibris)
Year of Publication
Number of Pages
Kodansha International
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Average: 5 (1 vote)


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Confronting and enlightening

Field of Interest/Specialty: Japanese culture
Posted On: 07/31/2009

Ibuse Masuji's novel pulls no punches in describing the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima that effectively ended World War Two in the Pacific. Ibuse tells the story from a personal perspective, in flashback, as a man remembers his walk through the city in the days following the bomb. The novel gives a very vivid portrayal of the effects of the bomb in terms of physical ailments and architectural destruction, but also explores the psychological effects on people - from selfish individuals who suddenly turned on family members to save themselves, or those who go to great lengths to sacrifice for others, even for people they don't know. The novel is therefore confronting in terms of the images it gives us, that linger long in the memory, but also very enlightening as to the depths of the human spirit, and the optimism and hope that can be found even in the darkest of times.
This book is very useful as a teaching tool for the Japanese perspective of the atomic bombing, and Ibuse avoids blaming America for the decision to use such weaponry. There is no 'victim consciousness' in the book, rather a stupefied amazement that humans as a species would come up with such a weapon, and a description of the weapon as beyond human understanding, akin to a natural disaster or Act of God.