BYU Asian Studies Journal


Charisa Player


BYU Asian Studies, Suna no Onna, Woman in the Dunes, Kobo Abe


Woman in the Dunes (Suna no Onna), written by Kobo Abe, readily lends itself to analysis as an existential novel, which is described as a work that “subverts and ridicules traditional genres of realistic fiction, asserting its non-mimetic autonomy over against the conventional expectations and interpretative customs of the reader” (Goebel). However, because of the way in which the novel presents its world, and the way that the narrative ends, Suna no Onna finds itself in a somewhat separate category from other existentialist texts. In his article “Kobo Abe: Japan’s Kafka,” Goebel explains Abe’s writing in Suna no Onna is a “psychological fiction, maintaining, however, the Kafkian narrative structure of the conflict between the conventional world of the protagonist and the ever-shifting, paradoxically uncertain counter-reality.” He continues explaining Kafka’s approach: