A Healing Family, Kenzaburo Oe's first book since winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, is an intimate portrait of the people closest to him. Above all, it is about his son Hikari.
Hikari was born in 1963 with a growth on his brain so large it made him look as if he had two heads. His parents were told he might never be more than a "human vegetable" requiring constant care; but they took the decision to raise him. Today, despite autism, poor vision, and a tendency to seizures, their son is an established composer with two successful CDs to his credit.
Oe has often written about the sorrows and satisfactions of being the parent of a handicapped child, most memorably in A Personal Matter; but nowhere has his writing been more personal, more buoyant, more revealing than in this non-fiction work. Without diminishing the suffering that Hikari and his family have been through, he celebrates the victories that can be won, especially his son's gift for music--his own "language."
Friends make an appearance along the way--doctors, musicians, other writers--as do the themes that have preoccupied Oe all his life: the rights of the underprivileged; the moral authority of the survivors of the atomic bombing; the mystery of language. But his thoughts keep circling back to his family--to the healing power of the family, and the unwitting courage we can all find in ourselves.
The book is illustrated with sketches of family life painted by his wife.