K, a renowned writer living in Tokyo who often retreats from reality, must come to terms with his mentally disabled son Eeyore, his family, his relationship with his own father, his own political beliefs, and his responsibility as an arist and writer in society, in an novel of family bonds, brilliant minds, and compassion.
Kenzaburo Oe is one of the world's finest writers, and in Rouse Up O Young Men of the New Age! he delivers a virtuoso novel of extraordinary power, touching on his familiar themes of family, responsibility, the nature of literary inspiration, and the unique nature of parenting a disabled child.
K is a famous writer living in Tokyo with his wife and three children, the oldest of whom was born with a brain anomaly that has left him mentally disabled. A highly cerebral man who often retreats from real life into abstraction -- in this case, the poetry of William Blake -- K is confronted by his wife with the reality that this child, Eeyore, has been saying and doing disturbing things -- behaving aggressively, asserting that he's dead, even brandishing a knife at his mother. As the days pass, various events -- K's hapless attempts to communicate with his son, Eeyore's near drowning during a father-son trip to the swimming pool, a terrible hurricane that nearly destroys the family's mountain cottage and the family inside it -- K is forced to question his fitness as a father.
K reconsiders his own life -- his relationship with his father, his rural upbringing, his relationship with a well-known dissident writer who committed suicide, the responsibilities of artists and writers in Japan generally. In the end, in part through his obsessive rereading of Blake, K is able to see that things are not always what they seem, especially where his son is concerned, and to trust his heart as well as his mind. Rouse Up O Young Men of the New Age! is a remarkable portrait of the inexpressible bond between this father and his damaged son, of the disconnect when a beautiful mind must confront crude reality, and of how each mind has its own path to understanding. Bittersweet, hilarious, and inspiring, it is the work of an unparalleled writer at his sparkling best.