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When we read Japanese history it’s easy to forget that the revolutionary changes that washed through the country from the 19th century into the 20th all took place within a single human life span.

Sawako Ariyoshi takes this notion as the premise for her 1959 novel “The River Ki.” The book follows the life of Hana, the daughter of a wealthy family in Wakayama, from her teenage betrothal to her elderly senility.

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