by MacDonald Harris.
New York: Farrar Straus & Giroux, Inc., 1977.
Also London: Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1978; New York, Avon Books, 1979;
London, Penguin Books Ltd., 1979.
From the Jacket:
It is August of 1945. An American submarine, silent and hidden, moves in
toward the darkened coast of an island. On board are an
odd quartet: Gus, a commander who was once
a student of religion; Angelo, a skilled navigator who
conceals his secret almost to the end; Havenmeyer, who understands
firearms and explosives better than he does the
complexities of the soul; and Ikeda, caught between two
cultures and uncertain where his loyalty lies.
Thus begins a book like no other book: partly an adventure-thriller
set in wartime Japan, partly a glimpse into a primitive world in
which the Ainu who still live in small settlements on
Hokkaido are turned into a race of occult artificers, half real and
half magic. Interwoven into this is what is surely
one of the strangest sexual encounters in modern literature. In
spite of the electric air of calmnessin which everything
happens, the suspense builds page by page. When the climax finally
comes it is a double one, as unexpected as it is inevitable.
MacDonald Harris's novel is related in a brilliant enamel-like
clarity that resembles Camus more than it does any American writer.
Its Yukiko is a heroine who lingers in the mind with the vividness of
things known and felt, half forgotten, and then
remembered again in a dream. History and fantasy are mingled; they
become one and then there is only the story.
After the mythological fable of Bull Fire and
the nostalgic Jules Verne adventure of The Balloonist, Harris
now offers a novel of action, of violence and
peril, that is in the end simply a story of a man and a woman, and their love.
Critical acclaim for Yukiko
- "They were all there aplenty last year in The Balloonist,
but in his new novel Harris's talents are proved like a theorem:
bright and dry pacing, hoodwinking complexity, bumpless style,
and a patterning imagination brought dashingly to bear.
Yukiko seems to be a striaght adventure story,
but its action is only the radius...Achingly clear action scenes--a train
escape, the destruction of a hydroelectric plant--propel the
book along while a spiritual, even spooky
lint accumulates. Soon everyone seems to correspond to some
previous other; a mysterious constellation of identity and exchange
takes shape. As if in a dream, the last chapter
is both surprising and not, closing an amazingly lucent performance,
a book made of icy spring water."
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