A girl wakes up, gets ready, goes to school, and rides the bus home at the end of her day to discover that her mother has invited guests over. Her father has recently died, and her relationship with her mother is at times rocky. All outward appearances suggest it’s just another mundane day, but for the young narrator, it’s a day that’s alive with internal turmoil and secret longings.
Written as a stream of consciousness, Osamu Dazai’s slim novella, Schoolgirl, is an impressive piece of work. In it’s few pages, Dazai manages to present a believable range of thoughts and emotions that a lonely young girl must contend with. These thoughts range from depressed to introspective to caustic, and readers are quickly enveloped into the nameless narrator’s world; she could any young girl anxiously waiting for her life to finally begin.
One of the things that most impressed me about this novella was the timeless nature of it. Dazai, a celebrated Japanese writer, lived from 1909 – 1948, at which point he committed suicide. Had I not known the time frame of the author’s short life, it would have been easy to believe that the book was set in contemporary times. I was initially thrown off by the stream of consciousness, but looking back, it seems like that’s the only appropriate style for this book. Dazai’s style is simple and straightforward, but his insights and the language he uses are always interesting. It’s easy to see why his works continue to be read today.
Schoolgirl was published by One Peace Books on October 1, 2011.