Library Picks + Snow by Maxence Fermine

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I’m happy to report that I’ve finished the bulk of my last library haul (I’m currently devouring Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye), giving me the perfect excuse to plunder the shelves for a fresh batch of books to drag home and enjoy. Right off the top is Snow, by French author Maxence Fermine.

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Set in Japan during the 1880s, Snow is a sparse and elegant story about a young man named Yuko Akita who dreams of becoming a poet and finds his passion in writing haiku about snow. On the urging of a visiting Meji court poet, Yuko travels to South of Japan seeking the poet’s former teacher, in order to learn the gifts of ‘an absolute artist’ to become a master poet. “Your poems are marvelously beautiful, they flow, the have music. But they are white like the snow. You are not a painter, Yuko. Your poems have no color. And without it, they will remain invisible to the world.”

Snow reads like a gentle fairytale flowing slowly, dreamily, even in its one or two grim moments. While I found the French tightrope walker too much like an anime ‘trope’ and her presence a little too fantastical, she provides the lesson Yuko needs to excel in his own passion, and infuse his words with color.

This book is the first in a ‘trilogy of color’, the next book entitled The Black Violin, followed by The Beekeeper. I think Fermine writes beautifully, so I’m keeping my eyes peeled for his other translated works.

Find rare and collectible first editions at AbeBooks

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