Books: Love on a Japanese Isle

THE SOUND OF WAVES (183 pp.)—Yuklo Mishima—Knopf ($3).

A Japanese novel is rather like a Japanese flower arrangement. It is subtle, delicate and personal, and it invariably fades a little in the vase of translation. The Sound of Waves does not wholly escape this fate, but its 31-year-old author, Yukio Mishima, is a spare-time weight lifter, and he has infused his tale of troubled young love among hard-working fisherfolk with a peasant robustness notably lacking in recent, more aristocratically attuned Japanese novels, e.g., Lady of Beauty, Some Prefer Nettles.

The men on tiny Uta-jima (Song Island) fish for octopus. The women dive in...

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