An Exquisite Sense of What Is Beautiful – a sweeping new novel of East and West, love and war – explores the truths and denials that exist within us all. Released March 28, 2013.
“A genuine tour-de-force, a beautifully written love story... calls to mind the best of William Boyd and Sebastian Faulks.” – Lesley McDowell
An Exquisite Sense of What Is Beautiful, the new book by J. David Simons, introduces us to Sir Edward Strathairn, an eminent British writer who has returned to the resort hotel in the Japanese mountains where he once spent a beautiful, snowed-in winter. It was there he fell in love and wrote his best-selling novel, which accused America of being in denial about the horrific aftermath of the Tokyo firebombings and the nuclear destruction at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As we learn more about his earlier life, however – as a student in Bloomsbury, involved with a famous American painter – we realise that he too is in denial, trying to escape past events that are now rapidly catching up with him.
Author J. David Simons says that the underlying theme of his new book is denial: "From the novel’s political point of view, it is the accusation that America is still in denial over the use of the atomic bomb on Japan. On the personal level, it is the protagonist’s struggle with the secrets of his past. However, the book is also about so much more – it contains several love stories, it deals with a Japan trying to reinvent itself after the Second World War, it is about Britain in the 1950s, it is about the life of a famous novelist.
"The main reason I wrote this book was the sense of injustice I have always felt about America destroying two cities and killing 200,000 civilians in just two days, not to mention the further loss of 100,000 lives caused by the firebombing of Tokyo five months earlier. I don’t think there is anything that justifies such mass destruction of innocent lives. I don’t think it is an act of war that would be acceptable today.
"I hope this book will make people think again what it really means to drop an atomic bomb on a nation. I also hope that the novel introduces readers to aspects of Japan they might not previously have known about. I loved living in Japan: it added another dimension to my way of thinking, which I hope has made me a wiser human being."
You can pre-order An Exqusisite Sense of What Is Beautiful at your local independent bookshop or at Amazon UK.
Praise for An Exquisite Sense of What Is Beautiful:
“In the tradition of Graham Greene or William Boyd, taking in great sweeps of history without ever losing sight of the personal, the telling detail. It is accomplished and compelling." – Chris Dolan, poet, author and playwright.
“Exquisite and beautiful... A great read. A piece of art.” – Helen Fitzgerald, fiction writer for both teens and adults.
“A beautifully sensitive book portraying the inevitably damning inequalities that can arise within all human relationships, be they political, cultural, sexual or emotional. Insightful and thought-provoking.” Sara Allerton, author of the award-winning Making Shore.