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It is almost impossible to find a serious novel that does not touch on the subject of death. “In the Woods of Memory,” taking for its theme the death of the soul, is no exception.

Those who follow Okinawan literature will know Shun Medoruma, an Akutagawa Prize-winning writer and political activist, whose work focuses on the enduring legacies of war trauma and occupation. The persistent themes running through all of Medoruma’s work are violation and carnage, understood through the grievous suffering of non-combatants. The rape of a 17-year-old girl by four U.S. soldiers during the Battle of Okinawa forms the animating horror at the core of this story, based on a number of similar cases related to the author by his relatives.

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