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The Winds of Mitamura by John Ball (eBook)

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In this haunting novel, John Ball returns to the setting he evoked so beautifully in his earlier success, Miss One Thousand Spring Blossoms. Set against the exquisite landscape of rural Japan, The Winds of Mitamura weaves an engrossing contemporary story of how people from radically different backgrounds seek in individual ways for respect, mutual understanding, and love.

Peter Storm, an assistant professor of sociology, receives the plum assignment of his career: to study at first hand the effects of modern technology on a remote Japanese rice farming village. His partner on the project is a young black graduate student named Marjorie Saunders. Because the sponsors of the project do not want "expert" preconceptions to interfere with fresh observations, both Peter and Marjorie are ignorant of a crucial prejudice: the rural Japanese have a deep-rooted fear of dark-skinned people. Worst of all, the inhabitants of this particular village, Mitamura, have a very special reason to dread blacks—a reason that almost costs Peter and Marjorie their lives.

From the moment the two Americans set foot in Mitamura, they are caught up in the task of overcoming the villagers' distrust of strangers. Only with the help of Akitoshi Ko-jima, an artist living in the village, do they begin to find acceptance from the members of the community. They come to appreciate the rhythms and customs of life in the village, the arduous work in the rice paddies, and, surrounding them, the undisturbed order of the countryside—a serenity which all but conceals the village's terrible secret. Peter and Marjorie also discover new loves that intensify their experiences in Mitamura, experiences ultimately threatened by a ferocious typhoon.

Two sensitive love stories, the climactic typhoon that crashes down on Mitamura, and, above all, the author's deep understanding of a rich, complex culture combine to make The Winds of Mitamura one of John Ball's most satisfying novels.

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