• The Woman in the Dunes

  • By: Kobo Abe
  • Narrated by: Julian Cihi
  • Length: 6 hrs and 14 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (271 ratings)

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The Woman in the Dunes

By: Kobo Abe
Narrated by: Julian Cihi
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Publisher's Summary

The Woman in the Dunes, by celebrated writer and thinker Kobo Abe, combines the essence of myth, suspense, and the existential novel.

After missing the last bus home following a day trip to the seashore, an amateur entomologist is offered lodging for the night at the bottom of a vast sand pit. But when he attempts to leave the next morning, he quickly discovers the locals have other plans. Held captive with seemingly no chance of escape, he is tasked with shoveling back the ever-advancing sand dunes that threaten to destroy the village. 

His only companion is an odd young woman. Together, their fates become intertwined as they work side-by-side at this Sisyphean task.

©1964 Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Devious, addictive.... Never less than compulsive.... Abe is an accomplished stylist.” (David Mitchell)

“Abe follows with meticulous precision his hero's constantly shifting physical, emotional and psychological states.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“As is true of Poe and Kafka...Abe creates on the page an unexpected impulsion. One continues reading, on and on.” (The New Yorker)

Featured Article: 10 Famous Japanese Authors You Have to Hear


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What listeners say about The Woman in the Dunes

Average Customer Ratings
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Bought this book on pewds suggestion. Liked it.

If you are thinking and are confused weather to buy it is not. I think you will not regret it. It was subtle existential funny book.

18 people found this helpful

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Nihilistic horror

I struggled to finish this because of how insanely depressing it is. Only read this if you are prepared for that. I listened to it while working. Worst idea of my life.

17 people found this helpful

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Fantastic

I’ve heard Abe kobo translated well into English and boy it does not disappoint. If you’re a fan of surreal and strange Kafka-like fiction with great prose you should check out this book.
Narration was pretty good, a bit monotonous but it suited well to the style of the story.

7 people found this helpful

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  • JH
  • 05-20-21

Nice read

I first heard about this book while reading Jarhead and it hasn't disappointed. It's at once strange, thrilling and terrifying. The voice acting was great and a nice balance of exposition and subtle/effective acting. I also feel good as an American having read a book translated from Japanese. I feel like some of what happened in the book may only be acceptable in Japanese culture, or Japanese culture from a few decades ago. There are some tabu/sexual situations that are so well written that listening to them in the car with the windows open at a traffic light with other cars next to me was a bit embarrassing. I don't think I would recommend this for someone under the age of maybe 16 without parental guidance as some of the sexuality might be confusing to younger audiences. But the rest of the book is so good that I feel like it would be valuable to anyone who has ever felt trapped or who has felt like Anakin regarding the beach.

2 people found this helpful

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too much self analysis/reflection

I was forced to read this book read this book for class. I didn't enjoy it. Perhaps you might if you like a lot of self reflection. The narrator did a great job!

2 people found this helpful

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Keep 'em coming!

Kobo Abe is my favorite author. I hope his other books (English translations) will be made available in audiobook format soon! Really enjoyed this performance.

1 person found this helpful

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a confused presentation

The main character was captured by the villagers to do work with the sand. It was a confusing presentation.

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Wonder

A wonderful journey such a bitter sweet filled with fullest sense of acquired love.

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Woman in the Dunes- Review

interesting progression of plot

well read. Good character development. realistic yet surprising ending
good book.

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pretty good!

i thought it was a really good story! there were parts that lost me, but over all it was good, not too complicated, not too stale! good story!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Veronica Marcano
  • 03-31-19

book👏🏽review👏🏽

loved it, since im english i woulda liked an english narrator since when i read it thats what it sounded like in my head but overall good reading and amazing story

2 people found this helpful

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  • corinne
  • 07-24-20

Underwhelmed

I was looking forward to reading this as I really enjoyed The Box Man but unfortunately I didn't like it as much as I thought I would. I loved the setting and the concept of this eternal struggle against the all-consuming sand. The begining had me pulled in but my interest dwindled a little in the middle. The protagonist got on my nerves but I think that's the point. I didn't feel sorry for him and I took much pleasure in his downfall.

Overall it's a decent book with a strong story but it wasn't really a "page turner" for me. There was some sexist remarks in the book and I'm not sure if this was to make you dislike the main character even more or because it was written by a man in 1962. Anyway, I think it deserves a read.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-15-19

Great story, not great narration

The voices barely differed much throughout, making it difficult to follow at times. Very monotone expression as well

Aside from that the story was brilliant