The Maids, Tanizaki's final novel, sparkles like a jewel. Over the years--before, during, and after WWII--many women work in the pampered, elegant household of the famous author Chikura Raikichi, his wife, and her younger sister. Though the family's quite well-to-do, the house is small; the proximity of the maids helps perhaps to explain Raikichi's extremely close, and somewhat eroticized, observation of all their little ways. In the sensualist patrician Raikichi, Tanizaki offers a richly ironic self-portrait, but he presents as well an exquisitely nuanced chronicle of change and loss: centuries' old values and manners are vanishing, and here--in the evanescent beauty of all the small gestures and intricacies of private life--we find a whole world passing away.
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About the Author
It's as if David Lynch wrote a season of Mad Men, with an emphasis on the women. Tanizaki's a really great writer.--David Mitchell
Skillfully and subtly, Tanizaki brushes in a delicate picture of a gentle world that no longer exists.
Tanizaki is a very brilliant novelist.--Haruki Murakami
The Maids is altogether lighter, freer, and more playful than The Makioka Sisters--a busily peopled and remarkably sensual group portrait. The short novel teems with life and has a flavor all its own, a joyful, comic, improvisational quality rupturing the elegiac tone announced in its opening pages. It is no bad thing to be reminded from time to time that Jun'ichiro Tanizaki's remarkably fresh and intimate voice is speaking to us across a gulf of years and cultures.-- (08/18/2017)