Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids

Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids

3.8 (2,497 ratings by Goodreads)
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"Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids" recounts the exploits of fifteen teenage reformatory boys evacuated to a remote mountain village in wartime. The boys are treated as delinquent outcasts - feared and detested by the local peasants. When plague breaks out, their hosts abandon them and flee, blockading them inside the empty village. The boys' brief and doomed attempt to build autonomous lives of self-respect, love and tribal valour fails in the face of death and the adult nightmare of war. 'An angry, engrossing novel...It is an extraordinary first novel, an amazing achievement for a writer of any age. Myth-like and almost painfully suspenseful, "Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids" has much in common with both "Lord of the Flies" and "The Plague"...His uncompromising honesty is what gives the story its universality and what makes its grim ending such a persuasive warning' - "New York Times". 'No Japanese novelist has ever written more brilliantly than Oe about the division that exists in the soul of his country' - "Daily Telegraph". 'A fiercely original book..." Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids" presents a complete and compelling world - a world powerfully remembered, powerfully imagined' - "Boston Globe". 'Dark, elliptical and austere...His novels are quite unlike those of any other Japanese novelist' - "The Times".show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 192 pages
  • 130 x 197 x 12mm | 125g
  • Pan MacMillan
  • London, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • 0330347292
  • 9780330347297

Review Text

First American publication of 1994 Nobelist Oe's 1958 debut novel: a fiercely intense, unsparingly realistic chronicle of the cruelties visited on the deviant and the different. Unlike most Japanese writers, Oe (The Silent Cry, 1975, etc.) prefers the direct to the oblique, truth to euphemism, and the intellectual to the mystic. Set in rural Japan, an area almost mythic in its isolation and timelessness, the story concerns a group of juvenile delinquents being evacuated en masse from a reformatory due to wartime air raids. Harried from village to village by hostile peasants who mistreat and starve them, the boys finally arrive in a rain-sodden mountain hamlet. Here, they must dig a grave and then bury a mound of plague-ridden animal corpses. Overnight, one of the youngest boys dies from the plague, and next morning all awake to find the village abandoned except for a girl and a dead woman; the inhabitants, fearing the plague, have blocked all exits and fled. For a while, time "went really slowly and simply wouldn't pass." Then the adolescent narrator, his tenderhearted young brother, and their tough comrade Minami break into the houses for food; they meet an abandoned Korean boy and a deserting soldier who's been hiding in the forest; and the narrator has a brief love affair with the nameless girl left behind in the villagers' flight. But she sickens and dies; his brother runs away; the residents return to kill the deserter and punish the boys; and the narrator - "only a child, tired, insanely angry, tearful, shivering with cold and hunger" - runs off into the forest. More shaded, more graphic, and angrier than Lord of the Flies, but the fierce anger is transmuted by Oe's art into literary gold - an anguished plea for tolerance more wrenching than any rant could ever be. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

2,497 ratings
3.8 out of 5 stars
5 25% (614)
4 40% (1,000)
3 28% (687)
2 7% (175)
1 1% (21)
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