“American School” by Nobuo Kojima
Nobuo Kojima was born in 1915. He majored in English literature at Tokyo Imperial University. In 1942, he went to China as a soldier. After the war, he became a high school teacher and taught English for several years. He is one of the most prominent Japanese writers during the post-war period.
The story unfolds itself in Tokyo in 1948, only 3 years after the war. The juxtaposition of the miserable and poor Japan with wealthy and healthy America is vividly described.
The delegation of high school teachers led by municipality officials make a courtesy visit to American School. The protagonist cannot speak English at all although he’s an English teacher. He’s afraid of talking with Americans and being talked to in English. Whenever he uses some simple phrases like “Good morning everybody”, he feels like he is a different person. Kojima’s black humor can make me both laugh and tacit. I can relate to him all the more for the fact that English had been considered the “language of the enemy” until only 3 years ago.
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