on Oct. 30, 2012 :
This review also appeared on my weblog here on January 22nd, 2012.
(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)
Title: Keiko-san's Story: An Account of the Minamata Tragedy (free to read on Smashwords)
Author: Eustacia Tan
Year published: 2012
Reason for reading: I saw it linked on Librarything and it was really short, so I didn't mind reading it on the computer screen. I read the HTML version on Smashwords.
In 2008, I had the opportunity to listen to the story of a victim of the Minamata tragedy. Here is her story.
In 2008, I was 15 and on my first trip to Japan. As it was a school trip, we were brought around to all sort of places, including the Minamata Disease Municipal Museum. As we looked at the exhibits, our studied nonchalance quickly turned into outrage at what happened. One of the most touching events was the opportunity to listen to Keiko-san’s story. Here is the story as it was told, without any amendments by me:
I didn't know anything about the Minamata disease, so I was a bit curious about it. The story itself only gives minimal information about the disease, but on page 6 there's a list of symptoms. I decided to look up the Wikipedia page afterwards (here, warning: photo of a 'deformed' hand, but nothing bloody or anything) and it says (for the people who don't want to click):
"Minamata disease (水俣病 Minamata-byō), sometimes referred to as Chisso-Minamata disease (チッソ水俣病 Chisso-Minamata-byō), is a neurological syndrome caused by severe mercury poisoning. [...] Minamata disease was first discovered in Minamata city in Kumamoto prefecture, Japan, in 1956. It was caused by the release of methylmercury in the industrial wastewater from the Chisso Corporation's chemical factory, which continued from 1932 to 1968. This highly toxic chemical bioaccumulated in shellfish and fish in Minamata Bay and the Shiranui Sea, which when eaten by the local populace resulted in mercury poisoning. While cat, dog, pig, and human deaths continued over more than 30 years, the government and company did little to prevent the pollution."
Eustacia re-tells the story of Keiko Ueno, whose family members died of the disease and her account of what happened when her husband first fell ill and the events afterwards. Though it does make me wonder what will now happen to all the people who get cancer from the nuclear accident in Fukushima last year (and there was also on the (Japanese and Dutch) news that polluted food and building materials from Fukushima was sold in other parts of Japan, as well as pollution in the tap water).
It reads easily, but the numbers were all written as numbers, which I think looked a bit odd in cases like "3 days later, in the evening, her husband died."
It looked like the English was not written by a native speaker, but it was really clear to read. It's so short that even if you happen not to like the writing style, you can read it very quickly.
Comment from Eustacia:
Thanks for reading and reviewing my short ebook. And thanks for pointing out the numbers thing, it's something that I can and will change(: The non-native style is intentional, because I thought that if I made the English perfect, it might lose something in (further) translation.
(review of free book)