Rouse Up O Young Men of the New Age

Kenzaburo Oe

It seems most of Oe’s works are at least semi-autobiographical; supposedly all his works feature a character based on his son Hikari who is developmentally disabled. This book is about a similar boy whose name is also Hikari, but goes by the nickname Eeyore, and a similar father who also writes and is the voice of the novel.

Prompted by a major transition in Eeyore’s life, the father looks to the poetry of William Blake to make sense of his and Eeyore’s history and to inspire him towards writing a set of definitions of the world in terms children like Eeyore could understand. The plot meanders through different milestones, and the father seems so focused on his oldest son that his other two kids’ names aren’t even mentioned (at the very end, the younger brother’s name is revealed). But overall his literary approach to his relationship with his son and the political aspects of dealing with his son’s disabilities is compelling.