The Breaking Jewel
Situated on a South Pacific Island during the latter days of World War II, this is an important story (translated by Donald Keene) of the observations of two men, Nakamura and Kon, from ‘the other side’. Dripping with the subtleties of the scores of wasted lives, and the inanity and insanity of war as a means of solving men’s problems, it is to a large extent a book for the chapter of history we exist with now.
‘What sustained them now was probably the anger and hatred they directed at the brutes of American soldiers.’ This quote sums up Oda’s anti-war sentiments. It is in his storytelling and subtle and delicate approach that he reaches his audience. He never once provokes feelings of extreme dislike but instead encourages respect for both sides. This completes a mission which, Oda makes apparent, resulted in the loss of many lives and the lives of countless treasured friends and family.
The Breaking Jewel is heart-rending and tactfully moving. It is also remarkable that Oda (and Keene’s translation) proved to be as powerful as a novella.