I was intrigued to read Kenzaburo Oe’s novel The Changeling (2010) when I heard that it was about Oe’s brother-in-law the deceased filmmaker Juzo Itami. I had read mysterious reports about Itami’s suicide that suggested that it might have come at the hands of yakuza, which had earlier slashed his face for his portrayal of them in one of his films. It is clear from the tone of the novel that Oe believes it was a suicide; there were reports that one of the women he was cavorting with was going to cause a scandal-and this aspect is addressed in the book albeit in a way that seems entirely fictional. Although, there are many factual aspects to the novel, it is essentially a piece of fiction. But as I mentioned it was the real life aspects of the novel that attracted it to me. There is a lot about growing up in Matsuyama in Shikoku, a place that I had recently visited. The only other work of fiction by Oe that I had read was two novellas, 17 & J, one story was about a 17-year-old right wing nationalist fanatic who tried to become an assassin. There is apart of this novel that also addresses this right wing fanaticism that Oe finds so unpleasant. In the book his father had led a paramilitary group that brings in Kogito (the Oe character) and Goro (the Itami character) in an attempt to somehow get them to contribute to a terrorist plan to protest the signing of the Peace Treaty with the US. This night is focal point for each young man and in their relationship that remains close throughout life. This is shown in the tapes that Goro has left behind for Kogtio after his death, in which Kogtio tries to understand why Goro has killed himself. Oe brings in the concept of “the changeling” from a surprisingly non-literary source, Maurice Sendak’s children’s book Outside There. It was a complex and engaging novel about identity and meaning in life.