Let me ramble a bit about Kaoru Takamura's Liou （李歐） today.
I bought it on a whim in 2009, and something in me definitely exploded with this book. It's one of those books that's so cathartic, eye-opening and soul-shattering that you know it's going to have a lasting place in your heart.
The story is about a Japanese man (the emotionally compromised Kazuaki) and a Chinese man (the magnetic, charismatic, beautifully enigmatic Liou), whose lives are inexplicably twined somewhere deep at the soul. The prose is cold, even merciless, in cutting deep into the dregs of the modern man. It's ruthless. There's no shame or hesitation in her words. The intensity of emotions, the human condition, and a love that has no name - they're all scrutinized and diced apart to the bare bones. And if that's not cathartic, I don't know what is.
And Kazuaki, despite his lack of open emotions, is still so human in his flaws and passions. The way his veins expand when he can feel Liou's soul feels so genuine and close and alive. Like I'm in synch with Kazuaki's beating heart and vicariously feeling Liou's blood through him. The emotions are almost tactile. Vivid, fantastical, and even magical, despite the gritty language. That feeling is so intimate and breathtaking, made all the more special because at the core it's not even real - they're fictional characters that I'm recreating in my mind through printed words on a page. I feel as if I have to treasure this experience.
Every language is unique, and every language is beautiful in their own way.
What I love about Kaoru Takamura's use of language is that under the detached, almost clinical dissection of her characters, there is always a rawness, something base and emotional that easily gives way into the magical. It runs through the book like the blood running through Kazuaki and Liou and everyone.
I don't think this book has been translated into English. It's a shame. And yet, a different language cannot truly encompass the sensibilities and subtleties of the original. Rather than it be a poor job, maybe, just maybe, it's best left alone.
(On the other hand, I know I come from the advantage of knowing two languages.)