Yasunari Kawabata (1899-1972) was a Japanese novelist and short story writer. His subtle, lyrical prose won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968. Characteristic of his works, including Snow Country (1956), The Master of Go (1972), and Beauty and Sadness (1975), are vignettes and evocative descriptions, delivered in a style echoing that of the haiku, a traditional form of Japanese poetry that focuses on nature and that emphasizes sharp concision. Here are some of our favourite quotations from Kawabata, all in 100 words or less:
"He was conscious of an emptiness that made him see Komako’s life as beautiful but wasted, even though he himself was the object of her love; and yet the woman’s existence, her straining to live, came touching him like naked skin. He pitied her, and he pitied himself." (48 words - Snow Country)
“In the depths of the mirror the evening landscape moved by, the mirror and the reflected figures like motion pictures superimposed one on the other. The figures and the background were unrelated, and yet the figures, transparent and intangible, and the background, dim in the gathering darkness, melted into a sort of symbolic world not of this world. Particularly when a light out in the mountains shone in the centre of the girl's face, Shimamura felt his chest rise at the inexpressible beauty of it.” (Snow Country - 85 words)
“She could not say why these rather inconspicuous green slopes had so touched her heart, when along the railway line there were mountains, lakes, the sea at times even clouds dyed in sentimental colors. But perhaps their melancholy green, and the melancholy evening shadows of the ridges across them, had brought on the pain. Then too, they were small, well-groomed slopes with deeply shaded ridges, not nature in the wild; and the rows of rounded tea bushes looked like flocks of gentle green sheep.” (Beauty and Sadness - 85 words)
Challenge: Tell a story by describing a scene in nature/a person using sensory imagery and metaphor... in 100 words or less. Try and stick to prose (even if you're not usually comfortable writing it) but also feel free to branch out and use poetry/anything else!