Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Old Man and the Monkey, by George Polley

The Old Man & The MonkeyYukitaro is a snow monkey who lives in the forrest outside the village.   Genjiro and his wife, Harue, live in a little home on the edge of the village.  One day, while sitting in his special meditation spot, Genjiro meets Yukitaro, and, together, they sit and look at the world.  Over many months, Yukitaro and Genjiro strike up a strong, loving friendship, which many of the villagers criticize, but once they see the friendship in action, they eventually embrace Yukitaro.

Gorgeous.  That is the only word that adequately describes this novella by George Polley.  The story is set in Japan, where Polley now lives, and is a moving allegory against racism and excepting those outside your culture.  The story is so delicate, yet powerful.

The characters of Genjiro and harue are relatable to many readers, because regardless of setting and ethnicity, this could be your grandparents.  They are simple, living in their home, tending their garden, taking walks.  They are ordinary, in a story that is extraordinary.  I love watching the friendship between Genjiro and Yukitaro blossom, and seeing how others in the village are affected by their relationship.  Each accepts the other into his life, regardless of what their peers may think, and in the end, they story inspires us to do the same.

Although I am not a student of music, I think this story, and it's message, would make for a moving opera or ballet.  There is a powerful lesson to be learned here.

A review copy of this book was provided courtesy of the publisher.