This is my third review of Bator’s book on this blog, the two before were Wyspa Łza and Rok Królika, if you’d like to take a look. I mentioned before that I fell in love with Bator’s writing after reading Ciemno, prawie noc/Dunkel, fast Nacht few years ago (before I started this blog). Since then I read a few of her books, but only reviewed the last three.
Purezento means a gift in Japanese and is oddly similar to the Polish word for gift – prezent. I have very mixed feelings about this book, on one hand Bator’s writing is great, I really appreciate her sensuous language that makes us touch, see and smell the places she describes, on the other my inner skeptic was quite often giggling at the cliché metaphors. Our protagonist loses her boyfriend in more ways than one, which makes the loss even more unbearable. As it sometimes happens the universe comes together to nudge her out of her despair and she is asked by one of her students (she teaches Polish) to travel to Japan to take care of her house and cat, while her student roams around Europe. She takes the chance (or a gift) and thus a slow healing process begins, there is nothing surprising about that. Definitely the easy metaphors and predictable story were something that bothered me. One the other hand her book helps us to immerse in a foreigner’s experience in Japan, we really get to feel the country, or the part of the country Bator decides to describe.
During her stay in her pupil’s house our protagonist participates in the workshops of kintsugi that take place there. Kintsugi is Japanese art of fixing pottery with lacquer mixed with gold. The goal is not to hide the place where pieces are re-joined but to accentuate it, make it a part of the new whole. In the West when things are fixed we want them ‘like new’, kintsugi goes against that, the goal is to accept the breakage as part of the objects existence, to make the ‘scars’ become a part of a new object enriched by its history. I’m sure you see the cliché metaphor I mentioned already, so let’s leave our skeptics to the side for a second. I really liked the idea that comes with kintsugi, not in reference to people, but to things and world in general, the notion that perfect does not always mean the same thing. It feels a lot more open and less rigid than what we usually expect.
I’m still waiting for Bator to come back with a book as shattering as Ciemno Prawie Noc.