My Name Is Sei Shonagon and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
CDN$ 27.95
Usually ships within 10 to 11 days.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.ca.
Gift-wrap available.
Quantity:1
Add to Cart
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

My Name is Sei Shonagon Hardcover – Oct 23 2003


See all 6 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
CDN$ 27.95
CDN$ 6.59 CDN$ 12.71

Join Amazon Student in Canada


NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus (Oct. 23 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701176032
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701176037
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 13.6 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
5 star
1
4 star
0
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
See the customer review
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Hardcover
Many have written of the otherness of Japan, about its history and culture but few have managed to get inside its soul in the way Jan Blensdorf has done. My Name is Sei Shonagon is no mere travel book.
The story itself is set in contemporary Tokyo and emerges via a series of intriguing memories and flashbacks recounted by a near-comatose woman known as Sei Shonagon. Even as the tale gets beneath the skin of the modern city, it is revealing the contrasting threads of beauty and violence that run through the whole of Japanese history. Whether one knows much about Japanese life or not, this book floods the mind with colours, sounds, odours and images of the daily theatre that is Japanese life. You emerge from reading as if from a dream rich with ambiguities.
Jan Blensdorf spent two years in Japan and inevitably her direct experience must have been as a foreigner, an expat, but she has said in interviews that gradually she came to internalise many of the Japanese attitudes, customs and forms of daily life. For me that is also what makes the character of Sei so fascinating - that she is somehow suspended between two cultures: she has the inside knowledge available to a Japanese together with the detachment of a critic. Her struggle for personal survival - in many senses - is only one part of a complex tale that deftly interweaves the lives of various people Sei comes to know at a level of extraordinary intimacy.
My Name is Sei Shonagon is a multi-layered experience - a story of suspense, a celebration of beauty and, above all, a meditation on the search for personal identity.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Experience the character's love of beauty. Oct. 1 2004
By algo41 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a novel about a woman in modern Japan. In an ingenious plot device, the woman, as a favor to a friend, converses with the friend's depressed and shy father, using a screen to separate them visually, kind of like a psychiatrist's couch. This turns into something of a career, but also echoes the writings of a famous medieval Japanese woman author, at a time when noblewomen led secluded lives. The love of beauty unites the two women, and is an important element in both historic periods, however unsatisfactory other aspects of the periods are. Now Blensdorf had lived in Japan only 2 years when she wrote this book, and I cannot vouch for the accuracy of some of her commentaries on modern Japanese life; certainly, she isn't very artful or subtle in conveying them. Nor is Sei Shonagon's general plot line very artful or subtle. What Blensdorf does remarkably well is to make the reader experience the woman's love of beauty, and its powers of sustenance.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Story of Suspense and a Dream Rich in Ambiguities Feb. 26 2004
By nick lauren - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Many have written of the otherness of Japan, about its history and culture but few have managed to get inside its soul in the way Jan Blensdorf has done. My Name is Sei Shonagon is no mere travel book.
The story itself is set in contemporary Tokyo and emerges via a series of intriguing memories and flashbacks recounted by a near-comatose woman known as Sei Shonagon. Even as the tale gets beneath the skin of the modern city, it is revealing the contrasting threads of beauty and violence that run through the whole of Japanese history. Whether one knows much about Japanese life or not, this book floods the mind with colours, sounds, odours and images of the daily theatre that is Japanese life. You emerge from reading as if from a dream rich with ambiguities.
Jan Blensdorf spent two years in Japan and inevitably her direct experience must have been as a foreigner, an expat, but she has said in interviews that gradually she came to internalise many of the Japanese attitudes, customs and forms of daily life. For me that is also what makes the character of Sei so fascinating - that she is somehow suspended between two cultures: she has the inside knowledge available to a Japanese together with the detachment of a critic. Her struggle for personal survival - in many senses - is only one part of a complex tale that deftly interweaves the lives of various people Sei comes to know at a level of extraordinary intimacy.
My Name is Sei Shonagon is a multi-layered experience - a story of suspense, a celebration of beauty and, above all, a meditation on the search for personal identity.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Some beautiful writing, but.... July 12 2005
By Japan Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The only reason I didn't give this book a one-star rating is that it starts off with some beautiful writing -- spare, lovely descriptions of beauty and Japanese traditions such as calligraphy and incense. There are also some interesting takes on Japanese society and life.

That said, the book relies too heavily on this and not enough on plot and character. I'm not a fan of totally plot-driven writing, but the conceit of this book -- that the author is in a coma, looking over her life -- is difficult to carry off even in the hands of a seasoned novelist. It's not impossible; I think of the biographical novel of Chang and Eng Bunker, the original "Siamese Twins," which starts with one of the twins waiting for his death. That, though, relays the events of their lives in a lively way, as if they are just happening, so you forget that the entire book is a flashback. In this case, though, the writing style is all reminiscent, a style that works all right for the first 40 pages but then becomes unremittingly flat. The main character never gets out of her own head, and the book never really comes alive.

Neither do most of the characters, most of whom are cardboard cutouts: distant husband (disposed of in three pages from marriage to divorce), evil uncle, saintly mother. We don't see what motivates the uncle to do what he does, even though it's pivotal to the book; and even though the character suddenly has enough spine to stand up to her uncle and husband, we don't see where it came from in her life.

And the ending! It's such a quickie, tacked-on ending that it almost makes me think the author had a page limit and had to end the book within that. She badly needed a discerning editor, or good reader, one who wasn't overly charmed by her (often) well-done descriptions of Japan into mistaking them for successful fiction.

As a long-term resident of Japan, I also became irritated by the book's tedious focus on depicting modern Japanese life, often heavy-handed and frequently cliche. It was nearly possible to check off every modern cliche about Japan, especially towards the end: Hello Kitty, train suicides, gropers. The author was using these images to substitute for those essential building blocks of a real novel: plot, character development, resolution.

Some very beautiful writing here, almost painfully lovely. If the author could match them up with a bit more action and more complex characters, she'd probably have a best-seller.
A little gem Aug. 15 2011
By PoohBear - Published on Amazon.com
This is an exquisite book. It covers a lot of ground from ancient to modern Japan in relatively few pages. The author did a great job on several of the characters and for me the book was well paced up to the end. I will be looking for the next book from J. Blensdorf.
I guess I just don't get it.... Sept. 14 2010
By Jacque Cartwright - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
It started out interesting enough, but towards the middle I got absolutely bored. I have no idea what I just read.

Product Images from Customers

Search

Look for similar items by category


Feedback