Spark is a short book about two comedians- Tokunaga and Kamiya and their life in comedy. It focuses on the manzai comedy of the Japanese culture- a kind of stand-up comedy involving two performers playing jokes in their mutual conversations. Tokunaga is an aspiring manzai comedian who wishes to make it big in his career, joins as one of the manzai duo naming it as Sparks. Kamiya is an experienced manzai comedian who assents to guide Tokunaga in his career, thus embarking on an unusual friendship.
I had no idea what manzai comedy is, and this book introduced it to me. It’s a quirky novel with unusual conversations briefing foreign readers about the Japanese manzai comedy. The book talks a lot about manzai, but it also explores the changing relationship between Tokunaga and Kamiya, their manzai career, and what it means to be in the comedy business.
It has already earned accolades in Japan as a funny and impressive book, and now there is a Netflix series based on this book called Hibana Spark. I haven’t watched it yet. To be honest, I didn’t find this comedy funny. I hardly laughed. It could be because I don’t know the flair of this comedy or about this comedy style or maybe translation don’t do justice. The writing didn’t work for me. The scenes or conversations that were tried to create as humorous were derogatory remarks, and tactless.
However, the book nicely presents the friendship of both the major characters, the intricate account of their personalities, and the instability of their career. Spark is a quick and light book to squeeze in a short time. An average read for me.
Have you happened to read this book? Or thinking of it lately?
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Author: Naoki Matayoshi
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Publishing Date: August 2020
My Rating: 3 stars