The Gate

The Gate



The Pequod Review:

Natsumi Soseki's The Gate is another closely-observed masterpiece, this time about a middle-aged husband and wife who find themselves alone and socially isolated, but seeking (and in some ways finding) happiness in their love for each other. Soseki structures his narrative ingeniously, as the reason for the couple’s ostracization is not revealed until two-thirds of the way through the book. Meanwhile, the book has a quiet intensity, full of day-to-day dramas, as the couple struggles through a life of exile and misfortune. And Soseki’s prose has a spare and melancholic power:

The union between Sōsuke and Oyone had dyed their existence a somber hue and reduced their presence, they felt, to mere wraiths that barely cast a shadow on the world. From one year to the next each lived with the sensation of harboring deep inside a frightening moral contagion, though neither one of them ever acknowledged this feeling to the other…. They kept on together by force of a steadfast mixture of resignation and forbearance, seemingly without the balm of hope or any prospect for a better future. As for the past, they rarely spoke of it. Indeed at times they appeared to shun even the mere mention of bygone days, as if by tacit agreement.

Highly recommended.