‘How Do You Live’ is set in 1930’s Japan. Copper is fifteen, his Father has just died and he feels lost in the world. When he moves house, he forms a close bond with his Uncle and from there his Uncle decided to start a notebook with notes inside addressed to his nephew for him to read one day.
His Uncle through these notes which you could say are more letters, is there to offer him advice and life lessons. The book itself actually feels like a lesson on it’s own. With topics such as Napoleon to Copernicus to relationships and poverty.
‘How Do You Live’ is a coming of age story. It’s cantered around Copper as he tries to navigate his way through life in suburban Japan and overcome the difficulties that he is faced with in day to day life as a teenager.
It’s also very character driven and focused on his relationships with his friends. But it’s primarily focused on his relationship with his Uncle. I loved Copper’s relationship with his Uncle who felt kind of like a father figure and mentor to him.
It’s such a riveting and pivotal read. I loved reading all about the different topics which felt like a refresher in history and really got me thinking about all the kind of subjects that were raised.
The translator, Bruno Navasky did such a good job of bringing this classic Japanese novel to the English language.
If you like Japanese fiction or Studio Ghibli films this is worth a read, it definitely has that Studio Ghibli feel to it and I can see why Hayao Miyazaki is coming out of retirement to create the film adaption which is his favourite childhood book.
I’m looking forward to seeing what the film adaptation brings.