This powerful novel of a nation in social and moral crisis was first published by New Directions in 1956.
Set in the early postwar years, it probes the destructive effects of war and the transition from a feudal Japan to an industrial society.
ReviewNovel by Dazai Osamu, published in 1947 as Shayo. It is a tragic, vividly painted story of life in postwar Japan. The narrator is Kazuko, a young woman born to gentility but now impoverished. Though she wears Western clothes, her outlook is Japanese; her life is static, and she recognizes that she is spiritually empty. In the course of the novel she survives the deaths of her aristocratic mother and her sensitive, drug-addicted brother Naoji, an intellectual ravaged by his own and by society's spiritual failures. She also spends a sad, sordid night with the dissipated writer Uehara, and she conceives a child in the hope that it will be the first step in a moral revolution. — The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature