This is the first time I have listened to the book Shibumi. I have read (and re read) the book every few years. After all these years, it is amazing how prescient and insightful Trevanian was. The book highlights issues, technologies, conspiracies (true or not) that are the subject of newspapers, magazines, and 24/7 television news coverage today. The narrator does a great job with the accents, the timing of the language, and the understated delivery so important to the author's lyrical design to highlight irony while presenting a character seeking shibumi through stripped down language that is illustrative of the concept.
A sarcastic spy tale without protagonist Shibumi is the tale of a perfect specimen of genetic indulgence vs. a sea of common human weakness.
Completely entertaining it is weakened only by those who would fail to see the satire and instead either hold it to high in praise or take offence as the last word in the story could easily be <wink>.
It is the perfect story to while away some time while engaged is something less interesting.
i couldn't put it down. fantastic. witty writing, engaging characters, satirical version of classic outrageous spy novel. writing was visual, I could really see the situations in minds eye.
This was a very uneven book. In parts it was utterly thrilling and fascinating, but other sections slowed to a crawl. I loved the first parts describing Nicolai Hel’s childhood and background - couldn’t stop listening. And I found the description of WWII from the point of view of the Japanese interesting, in spite of the anti-American sentiments expressed repeatedly, since these were directed against the corrupt politicians and the unthinking masses of consumers rather than against individual people themselves. There was a lengthy middle section, which was rather tedious, with an (for me) endless description of a caving expedition, which brought the plot to a grinding halt. I would have preferred more description of how Hel ended up with his chateau and his concubine to the lengthy and detailed depiction of dangerous caving. At this point I was also getting very tired of how every character has to constantly expound “bon mots” about other cultures. Then, for the last section, the story really picks up again. I loved the end, which was again suspenseful and overall satisfying. The narration was very good for the most part, although the narrator had difficulty with Arab accents. The other accents were highly convincing.
I expected a sensual love story taking place in Japan. What I got was a quasi spy novel with strong character development dotted throughout with excellent tidbits about people, governments, life choices, etc.
I say quasi-spy story because there is no actual espionage nor any mystery here about who did what and why to whom. However, the main character is a spy (now retired) and the majority of the book is about how he became that (backstory) and what he's going to do now with one last job plopped on his plate (the rest of the story).
The author has been admonished in some of the low-rated reviews for bashing Western societies and elevating Eastern and I can certainly say that there is fodder for that view in the book, its' just that I tend to actually agree with the author's poor view of industrialized, materialistic society (while I live nicely within it........). I found many lines and discussions that were so insightful I wanted to stop the recording and write them down (did not do, but should). I looked the author up on Wikipedia, after all, how could I not be intrigued by an author with only one name, obviously just a pen name? He is a intellectual, a professor, that indeed did "check out" of US society in favor of Europe, but he does not sound angry just realistic (to me).
My favorite aspect of the book was the insights. The narrator did a fine job, creating a different voice for different characters and I especially like the voice he chose for the main character as an adult. The story was unsurprising and incredibly long and involved but not bad.
I think you will enjoy this book if you enjoy learning how WW2 affected China and Japan (from an individual's point of view) and if you like a trained assassin with a heart who turns out to be the good guy (and if you don't mind FBI being the bad guys).
No. Nicolai Hel sounded much different in my head. Bit of a milk toast snob in this performance.
When Cagot dresses elegantly for the dinner party.
When he meets Madam Director.
Shibumi is well-written and the characters are well-developed. Stereotypes are used, but not overused. The plot moves along at a nice clip, occasionally pausing for a breather before taking off in a completely unexpected direction. Considering how long ago this novel was written, the author did an amazing job of predicting future technology.
The character of Nicolai Hel - he's complex, disciplined and very human.
Yes, but it would be a spoiler. It's very, very close to the end of the book and involves Nicolai and his concubine sitting in their garden.
I enjoy audiobooks generally. The action scenes are well read and exciting. There were a few long winded parts and they were more interesting in audio than reading, judging from the comments in my bookclub group.
Most of the time, I was very engaged and interested.
Good voices and reading style.
Not too much.