The Changeling (Kenzaburō Ōe novel)

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The Changeling (取り替え子 (チェンジリング) Torikae ko (Chenjiringu)) is a 2000 novel by Kenzaburō Ōe.[1] It is the first book of a trilogy.[2] It was translated into English by Deborah Boliver Boehm (ISBN 9780802119360),[1] and published in the United States by Grove Press. Its English publication appeared in 2010.[2] Boehm uses American English heavily in her translation.[1] The United Kingdom version is published by Atlantic Books.[3]


In the novel, a filmmaker named Goro Hanawa commits suicide. Goro had appeared happy before his suicide. His best friend, a novelist named Kogito Choko, discovers the suicide via an audiotape recorded by Goro; he had sent forty tapes to Kogito. Chikashi Choko, Goro's sister and Kogito's wife, also learns that Goro died. To learn why Goro had killed himself, Kogito listens to the tapes. Scott Esposito of the Los Angeles Times said that "What he finds is a rambling series of discourses on everything from the friendship they've shared since they were teens in the 1950s to Goro's ideas about art and life, their shared admiration for Rimbaud and a few secrets from the past."[2]


  • Kogito Choko (長江 古義人, Chōkō Kogito) – The main character. He has a son who is a composer and is disabled.[1]
  • Goro Hanawa (塙 吾良, Hanawa Gorō) – A legendary filmmaker who commits suicide. He is Kogito's brother in law and best friend
  • Chikashi Choko (長江 千樫, Chōkō Chikashi) – Goro's sister and Kogito's wife
  • Daio : one-armed leader of a band of young, right-wing disciples whom he inherited from Kogito's late father in 1945
  • Peter: a, homosexual U.S. Army officer serving in Japan in 1952
  • Mitsu Azuma-Böme:, a mysterious older Japanese woman who seeks Kogito out in Berlin
  • Akari Choko (長江 アカリ, Chōkō Akari):, Kogito's son and slightly mentally handicapped composer
  • Ura Shima: Goro's teenage lover in Berlin one year before his suicide


Scott Esposito of the Los Angeles Times said that the book "offers evidence that the Japanese master has regained his footing."[2] Christopher Tayler of The Guardian said that, because a Western reader may not have context that a Japanese reader would have, it would be more difficult for him or her to get fulfillment from the novel.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Tayler, Christopher. "The Changeling by Kenzaburo Oe." The Guardian. Friday June 11, 2010. Retrieved on November 9, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d Esposito, Scott. "'The Changeling' by Kenzaburo Oe." Los Angeles Times. March 7, 2010. Retrieved on November 9, 2012.
  3. ^ "The Changeling." Atlantic Books. Retrieved on November 9, 2012.

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