Fumiko Enchi is one of the most famous authors of the Shōwa period (1926-1989) – a year ago in our top we recommended her Masks, today we want to tell you about The Waiting Years.
The Waiting Years (translated by John Bester) is a story about what it meant to be a woman in Japan at the turn of the 20th century. It is a story of the subjugation of women to men – the main character is Tomo, at a young age married to a high-ranking official, now she is faced with the obligation of finding a new teenage housekeeper/mistress for her husband. For years, she has maintained the facade of a decent family, caring for and bearing all the whims of her husband.
The title is also significant – in the original it is Onnazaka, literally “woman’s hill”. Each subsequent page of the book is a climbing up the hill. The translator of the Polish version, Iwona Kordzińska-Nawrocka, decided to keep this title in the original, in the now unavailable WUW edition: Onnazaka. Droga kobiety [Onnazaka. The way of the woman].
It is not without reason that The Waiting Years is considered one of the most important post-war novels; shows how much the Japanese women have achieved and reminds us that we can never stop in this uphill march, no matter if in Poland or Japan.