I was inspired to read Kenzaburo Oe's A Personal Matter (1964) after reading the translator John Nathan's memoir, Living Carelessly in Tokyo and Elsewhere. Previously I had read two short novels J & 18 as well as the book about his actor-director brother-in-law Juzo Itami, The Changeling. Those books were interesting, but this one felt more vital and seems to be the one that was cited for the Nobel Prize in Literature that he won in 1994. I suspect that his politics also helped him get the prize-he is a notorious anti-nuclear left wing intellectual and there's nothing wrong with that, but sometimes it is hard to respect the committee's decisions, because they are not always based on literary merit. It is an unusual book in which the protagonist is not the least bit sympathetic until the last few pages where decides to do the right thing. It seems somewhat out of the blue, but I suspect that the character had to go to the brink of making a decision that he would regret for the rest of his life before realizing what his fate was meant to be. It was a realistic portrait of a man trying to come to terms with a very human dilemma.