The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa

I’ve often been tempted to try Yoko Ogawa’s books – my work colleague has repeatedly told me that The Housekeeper and The Professor is a must read and I’ve picked up her books in bookshops many times, yet put them back due to price. I was pleasantly surprised that my local library had a copy of The Diving Pool not only on the shelf but in a condition that suggested nobody’s lunch had ever been spilled on it! (Always a bonus).

The Diving Pool contains three novellas and can easily be read in a day. The first story, The Diving Pool, is about a girl who lives with many foster brothers and sisters. Every day, she watches her foster brother practise diving. Unfortunately, she is not as nice to her other siblings…

The second story, The Pregnancy Diaries, is a diary of a young woman living with her sister and her brother-in-law. The diary starts as the sister announces she is pregnant, but the sister has all sorts of strange things going on…

The final story, Dormitory, is about a young woman about to depart for Sweden. She reminisces to her cousin about her college days in a dormitory. He goes to live there when he starts college, but mysterious things are happening. The caretaker is a triple amputee and the students are disappearing…

All three stories are written beautifully and sparsely, leaving you to make up your own mind to what may have actually happened. All facets of human nature are laid bare from jealousy to cruelty. There’s an element of the gothic or horror to each story. When trying to explain this book to a friend, her response was ‘you read weird stuff’ but I think Japanese literature is a lot more brutally honest in its assessment of the human psyche.

I look forward to reading one of Ogawa’s novels soon.

Read it if: you enjoy the slightly creepy and can handle people doing strange things.

8 out of 10.

I read this as part of the Hello Japan! January Mini-Challenge, which was to try something Japanese that I haven’t before. Yoko Ogawa was a new author for me, with a great result!

14 thoughts on “The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa

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  1. This sounds pretty great! I’ve only read one Ogawa so far but that impressed me a lot. I also found her prose sparse but powerful. Hope my library has this one!

  2. I haven’t read The Diving Pool yet but hope to fit it in before too long. However, last year I read both The Housekeeper and the Professor, and Hotel Iris, and loved both of them. They were very different from each other subject-wise but were both very beautifully written. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one, and definitely recommend you try her novels too. And thanks for taking part in Hello Japan! this month.

  3. This was one of my first Japanese works of fiction, & I absolutely loved it, it was also one of my early reviews, back when I first started Blogging, so I have fond memories of this & The Housekeeper & the Professor, keep meaning to get hold of the Hotel Iris, maybe this year.

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