Books

Review: The Life of a Stupid Man

This is a short autobiographical book written by one of the most important Japanese writers. Ryūnosuke Akutagawa was a modernist author, radical and tormented, who is also known as the ‘father of the Japanese short story’. In fact, one of the most important literary awards in Japan is the Akutagawa Prize.

The Life of a Stupid Man, is divided in three parts: a story that narrates an ongoing investigation about the death of a man and the disappearance of a woman, a death register of the people closest to Akutagawa, and a series of autobiographical episodes that tell no more than what the man thought when they happened.

This read was completely different from what I’m used to, but it was an amazing surprise. I found it hidden in a book store and I bought it because of its cheap price and its unusual title.

It is definitely not for everyone. It doesn’t have too much action or plot, but it is a peek into the mind of a complex man full of ambition and insecurities, who was completely dominated by the fear of going mad. Ironically, his fear led him to madness.

It was a very fast, very good read, and I recommend it to anyone who is looking for something different, short and personal.

  My edition:  Paperback, published in 2015 by Penguin Little Black Classics.
My edition: Paperback, published in 2015 by Penguin Little Black Classics.
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