In late 1944, three Japanese military supply ships were sunk near the small island of Anatahan in the Marianas Islands. Their crews were stranded on the island for several years, unwilling to surrender to U.S. forces until 1950. What made the story suibject to a lot of media attention at that time was the presence of a single woman on the island during this time, whose presence inspired rivalries, jealousies and apparently multiple murders.
Cage on the Sea is a novel about this situation. It reads like fiction because the author has provided a day to day, blow by blow account from the minds of multiple members of the story. What made it unusual to me was that the translation was extraordinary. The Japanese sailors and soldiers speak using contemporary slang that makes them as familiar as the standard WW II characters on the American side – the hard-bitten Brooklyn native, the country hick, the career sergeant, and so forth. The personalities are no less Japanese, but the translation makes them more than just another character – they live and breathe in the English translation because they speak as we expect people to speak, and act as we would expect them to act.