Summary (from Goodreads): Isaku is a nine-year-old boy living in a remote, desperately
poor fishing village on the coast of Japan. His people catch barely enough fish
to live on, and so must distill salt to sell to neighboring villages. But this
industry serves another, more sinister purpose: the fires of the salt cauldrons
lure passing ships toward the shore and onto rocky shoals. When a ship runs
aground, the villagers slaughter the crew and loot the cargo for rice, wine,
and rich delicacies. One day a ship founders on the rocks. But Isaku learns
that its cargo is far deadlier than could ever be imagined.
Who knew it was possible to be more depressing than Thomas Hardy! Shipwrecks by Akira Yoshimura is now the bleakest thing I have ever read. I really wanted to like the book and searched in vain for a silver lining. Isaku’s life was terrible and terrifying. Though some of the village customs were interesting, I would’ve been happier left in the dark. The dull repetitiveness of the villagers’ lives, which was supposed, perhaps, to be touching, simply bored me. I didn’t see a point to the book, however hard I tried, and found nothing I could learn from, mull over. The writing was disconnected, repetitive and reeked of translation. Almost all characters were one-dimensional, stick figures, whom it was impossible to emotionally connect to. The only good thing about this story was that it was short. Even then, my head hurt by the time it ended. 
I’ve read better books than this for the Japanese Literature Challenge.