The Diving Pool: Yoko Ogawa
Reviewed By Fiona Dodwell
- Disclaimer – It should be noted that one of the tales in this collection does involve scenes of child abuse. So readers who are not comfortable with this may want to avoid this title
Anyone who has read my previous reviews (or who has followed my online social media accounts) will know that I have a deep love and fascination with Japan. This extends to fiction (translated to English, as I admit I haven’t studied the language). I have read many brilliant titles from Japan and I wanted to review the most recent one I have read – because it is exceptional.
The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa is a dark book. It is not strictly “horror” yet it is foreboding and unsettling enough to satisfy fans of dark literature. Essentially, The Diving Pool is made up of three novellas, and I am happy to say each tale was a satisfying world in its own right.
The first tale is actually called The Diving Pool and it follows a young teenager (who lives with her parents in a foster house that they run) as she begins to develop an unhealthy obsession and crush on one of the young boys that her parents open their home to. The story begins quite subtly and seems quite innocent at first, but gradually the story becomes so dark and unsettling – the character slowly revealing her dark side. I won’t add any spoilers but this story has some really awful events. Proceed with caution!
The second story in the collection is Pregnancy Diary. This tale tells of one young woman who becomes fascinated by her sister’s pregnancy. This fascination soon delves into a dark obsession (including keeping a diary as she records everything that happens as her sister’s body changes), leading to a string of unsettling events. By the end of this tale, you will be chilled by the evil one character can do to another, seemingly without a care in the world.
The third and final tale is my favourite – it’s called Dormitory. A woman who is living alone agrees to help a young relative secure student accommodation as he is due to begin his Uni course. The thing is – this block of student apartments seems to be housing a dark secret. What happens when the student moves in? Is there truth to the rumours about the property that students who move in might simply “vanish?” I loved the slow build of this story – yet the unease really seeped off the pages.
I love Ogawa’s writing. She doesn’t write “horror” in the strictest terms, as I mentioned before, yet I think it’s fair to say her work is really foreboding, creepy and dark. Often, her stories are like a study of the darkness of the minds of men and women – the evil things people do to one another. Her work is very psychological and you can’t help but feel as if you are part of the awful things that happen, so engaging are her characters.
If you like subtle yet really unnerving stories, you can’t really beat this. Each tale has really stuck with me, long after I finished reading.
I highly recommend The Diving Pool.
The Diving Pool
The first major English translation of one of contemporary Japan’s bestselling and most celebrated authors
From Akutagawa Award-winning author Yoko Ogawa comes a haunting trio of novellas about love, fertility, obsession, and how even the most innocent gestures may contain a hairline crack of cruel intent.
A lonely teenage girl falls in love with her foster brother as she watches him leap from a high diving board into a pool–a peculiar infatuation that sends unexpected ripples through her life.
A young woman records the daily moods of her pregnant sister in a diary, taking meticulous note of a pregnancy that may or may not be a hallucination–but whose hallucination is it, hers or her sister’s?
A woman nostalgically visits her old college dormitory on the outskirts of Tokyo, a boarding house run by a mysterious triple amputee with one leg.
Hauntingly spare, beautiful, and twisted, The Diving Pool is a disquieting and at times darkly humorous collection of novellas about normal people who suddenly discover their own dark possibilities.
Fiona Dodwell has been writing fiction for almost 10 years, with several horror/paranormal titles released under various publishers. Alongside this, she is a freelance writer for various websites and magazines. She has written features for Warner Music, Made In Shoreditch Magazine, Music-news.com and Tremr.
Fiona has studied Psychology, Film Studies, Theology and Health & Social Care.
Her biggest passion is reading dark fiction, as well as creating new stories of her own – the creepier the better!
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