The Ten Loves of Nishino is a short Literary Fiction novel about ten women who fall in love with the same man over the course of his life.
Sounds interesting enough, right?
But, should you read it?
Let’s find out.
The answer might be yes, IF –
1. You’re Okay With Non-Linear Narratives
Does it bug you when a story is told non-sequentially? If so, do yourself a solid and skip this one.
Though, this might be a contender if you favor, or are unbothered by, non-linear narratives.
2. You Don’t Mind Multi-Perspective Stories
The Ten Loves Of Nishino is narrated by ten different women, each with her own chapter.
Each ‘Love’s’ personality and voice are distinct, thank goodness, because it’s a bummer when every narrator sounds the same in multi-perspective stories.
Some who have read this say that it’s more like ten interconnected stories, instead of one narrative.
While I do not think the same, I’m throwing this out there just in case it helps you make a more informed decision.
But, if you’re not bothered by multi-perspective stories, or perhaps even enjoy them, then this may be for you.
3. You’re Okay With A Book Not Wrapping Up Neatly
I’m tossing this out there because this really gets some readers up in arms, which, no judgement over here. 🙂
If you like your books tied up with a pretty bow on top, skip this one, because this ain’t that. Every question will not be answered, as crisply as, perhaps, you want it to be. Or nearly at all, for that matter.
I hesitate to say more, because there are elements that you have to experience for yourself. Though, I really want to.
*gasp* Have I already said TOO much?
4. You Aren’t Miffed About Books Without Plots
If you’re solely a plot-driven reader, and are not interested in non-plot-driven books, then you know what to do, because this book ain’t goin’ nowhere fast.
In truth, it is not about plot at all. It’s more akin to slice-of-life, but it’s definitely more than that. It’s a look into one aspect of one man’s life, traced through his lifetime.
5. The No Quotes Dialogue Thing Doesn’t Drive You Batty
In the edition I read, there are quotes around dialogue sometimes, other times they’re MIA.
I wasn’t bothered by it, once I realized it was happening. But I don’t think it was intentional – what’s up with that Europa?
6. You Enjoy (or are open to) Translated Fiction
Is translated fiction your jelly and jam?
Well, this one was originally written in Japanese and published in 2003. The English version came some 16 years later, which it was published in 2019.
Though I don’t understand a lick of Japanese, I liked the translation. And apparently I’m not alone, since the translator, Allison Markin Powell, won the PEN Translation Prize in 2020.
I found the The Ten Loves of Nishino to be a uniquely told story, and though it frustrated me at times, it ultimately was a fascinating and engaging read.
After wrestling with it in the beginning, trying to understand what it is, and what it isn’t, by the third ‘Love’, I was finally able to sit back and allow the narrative to guide me along as it pleased.
Hearing from each woman’s perspective was a unique choice in deciding to tell Nishino’s story, that, though unexpected, I found refreshing and intriguing. Though, two out the ten are a snooze-fest…good thing their chapters are short.
As writing goes, Kawakami creates atmosphere in such a way that made me feel nostalgic for scenes I’ve never encountered and lives I’ve never lived. It was enchanting.
In my opinion, The Ten Loves of Nishino is best enjoyed if you allow the story to take you where it wishes. Then, after you’ve encountered the ‘Loves’, events, and perspectives, form your own opinions.
This is certainly the type of novel that can be re-read over and again, with different insights and takeaways upon each re-read.
However, I did take off 1.5 stars, for personal reasons.
The Ten Loves is outside my wheel house, so I grew impatient with it at times.
The fact that we get answers but not an actual wrap-up, threw me off. This is not a criticism of the book, but rather a case of mis-placed expectations.
And, though the reading experience was good, it wasn’t as permeating as I expected.
Though there is a reason, I believe, WHY each of these things is so.
But now, YOU are armed with the information that I wasn’t, so hopefully it makes for a better experience for you, should you decide to read it.
Are you still here?
Then what are you waiting for?
Read it already! 🙂
All the Best & Happy Reading!