From Publishers Weekly
A young Japanese woman struggles to spring her brother from an Indonesian prison in Ikezawa's latest, which begins when Kaoru Nishijima learns that her brother, Tez, has been arrested and imprisoned in Bali for heroin possession. When her old-fashioned parents are reluctant to bail out their miscreant son, Kaoru travels to Bali, where she quickly realizes that Tez has been set up by the Indonesian police. With the political deck stacked against her in Bali, she returns to Japan to consult a professor who has extensive connections in Indonesia, but even when he goes to Bali with her to hire a well-connected lawyer, the best they can hope for is to mitigate a prospective death sentence for Tez. While Kaoru fights her uphill battle, Tez reflects on his early success as an illustrator, a "too much too soon" tale that led him straight to a German woman who introduced him to heroin. The Midnight Express plot line will make the first half of this novel seem familiar to many American readers, and the writing dealing with the case is pedestrian though engaging. But Ikezawa (author of the acclaimed short story collection Still Lives) takes a different road once Tez's trial starts, linking Kaoru's accidental exploration of the mysterious Balinese spirituality with the sudden downfall of the corrupt police chief that provides the Nishijimas with a ray of hope. It is the spiritual material and Ikezawa's graceful presentation of Tez's musings about the failure of heroin to provide the artistic revelations he expected that make this a worthwhile read.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Ikezawa is one of Japan's most acclaimed fiction writers, and this novel won that country's prestigious Mainichi Prize. Like the movies Midnight Express
, this is the story, based on a true incident, of a traveler arrested for drug possession who endures harsh confinement in a foreign prison and faces a possible death sentence. Tez Nishijima is a renowned Japanese artist who became a heroin addict while traveling in Thailand, seduced by a German art critic who convinced him that heroin would make him a better painter. He was able to kick his enormous habit, but it has left him vulnerable to temptation, and, while in Bali, he succumbs, only to be arrested. His resourceful sister, Kaortu, horrified by his physical deterioration and his near-catatonic state, enlists the help of a retired professor and two of his longtime Indonesian friends to help her and her brother maneuver through Bali's corrupt judicial system. A languid, layered book--part travelogue, part courtroom drama--that at heart is an intriguing exploration of the nature of creativity. Joanne WilkinsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved