A Personal Matter

A Personal Matter – Kenzaburō Ōe

This was a very personal book for me, because it tells about a young father unable to come to terms with his son being born with a brain damage. My baby brother (he is actually twenty, but still – he’ll always be a baby brother to me) was born as a child with special needs. He has autism and was even hyperactive when he was younger. He never could enroll into a mainstream school. So, naturally, I had a different point of view when it came to this book than most people would.

You have a very different childhood, growing up with someone who has this kind of problem. You get used to weird stares in the bus, people calling your brother names, having to deal with undereducated shrinks and teachers in a lousy country who can’t even help themselves on a daily basis. Yeah, it can be tough. But, my parents were very brave, they gutted it out and always did the right thing.

That’s more than I can say for the protagonist of this book. When his wife gives birth to a brain deformed child, his depression drives him deeper and deeper into a bottomless pit until, eventually, he comes up with a perfect solution – murder.

Luckily, he doesn’t go through with it. He comes to his senses before it is too late and decides to accept and take care of his son, regardless of everything.

A truly amazing book, felt like riding a rollercoaster the entire time I was reading it. The descriptions are chilling, but still beautiful. Makes it all the more genuine because this was, in fact, a tale of Kenzaburo’s own sadness and struggles.