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Evil and the Mask Hardcover – June 11, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Crime; Reprint edition (June 11, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616952121
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616952129
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #552,764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* It is tradition in the Kuki family for the patriarch to sire one son to be a “cancer.” At age 11, Fumihiro Kuki is told that he is to be the cancer. His menacing arms-merchant father promises to show him “hell” as a teen to ensure that he will wreak havoc on Japanese society, and he even adopts Kaori, an orphan girl, to use as a tool in tormenting his son. Boy and girl fall in love, and Fumihiro kills his father to shield Kaori and avoid his fate. Nakamura cuts abruptly to the present, and thirtysomething Fumihiro has a new face, supplied by an outlaw plastic surgeon, and as he searches for Kaori in a dystopian Japan beset by many human and societal cancers, he believes that his father succeeded. Nakamura’s The Thief (2012) won Japan’s top literary award. Evil and the Mask is a hard-to-put-down novel of ideas and a savage comment on nihilism, both Japanese and global. It is monstrous, and at times fanciful (e.g., homegrown nihilist-terrorists bombing buildings, killing provincial politicians, and demanding that the prime minister do an impersonation of a Japanese pop star on national TV); and like The Thief, it employs themes used by Mishima, Camus, and Dostoevsky. It may befuddle some Western readers, but it shouldn’t be missed. --Thomas Gaughan


Praise for Evil and the Mask

“Karma runs thicker than blood in Evil and the Mask, the thought-provoking and unpredictable new novel by the Japanese zen-noir master Fuminori Nakamura.”
Wall Street Journal

“Evil and the Mask is a brilliant novel from one of Japan’s most current authors . . . If you love Patricia Highsmith, you’ll love Nakamura.”
Globe and Mail

Evil and the Mask is a hard-to-put-down novel of ideas and a savage comment on nihilism, both Japanese and global . . . Shouldn't be missed.”
Booklist, Starred Review
“A twisted tale of revenge . . . mixing noir and the existential question of free will.”
The Japan Times
“Deliciously twisted . . . Nakamura bend[s] the line between what is good and what is evil until it nearly breaks. It’s impressive how a book so dark can be so much fun.” 

“[Evil and the Mask is] full of themes that everyone can appreciate . . . Nakamura blurs the line between light and dark, good and evil. He illustrates that nothing in life is completely black and white.” 
Tulsa Books Examiner

Evil and the Mask is concerned with a twisty sense of morality: is Fumihiro born evil, and can he escape the cruelty associated with his surname?”

 “Deals with basic questions of good and evil, guilt and remorse. Cryptic detectives, smoky nightclubs, and murky streets in Japanese suburbs add to the noir sensibility. At times bizarre, at times hallucinatory, the story is always provocative.”
Publishers Weekly

“This literary thriller steeps the reader in humanity’s dark nature and the struggle of those who try to resist their own moral corruption.”
Library Journal
Evil and the Mask is an engrossing account . . . The story is violent, revengeful, and often disagreeable but it still contains that hypnotic voice that makes you want to read more.” 
Midwest Book Review

Evil and the Mask, the second book of his to be available in English, is undoubtedly the narrative that will help cement him as the new master of Japanese noir . . . an absolute must-read.”
Out of the Gutter Magazine

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Customer Reviews

And it's also a love story, a very unexpected one.
At each turn in his life he will show more grace, intelligence and cunning than we might ever expect from him.
ancient incognito monkey
Too boring, no real storyline, not going to read another one of his books.
donna cavaliere

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 100 REVIEWER on June 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
"It wasn't revenge. I simply wanted to set him on fire. Air, that was the word that came to mind. I felt as little emotion as air." Fumihiro wants to destroy evil, but does the killer of evil become the thing he kills? That question lies at the heart of Evil and the Mask, the second novel by Fuminori Nakamura (after The Thief) to be translated into English.

Evil and the Mask opens with a fascinating premise. It is a tradition for men in a certain family, after attaining the age of sixty, to sire a child who will become a cancer in the world, tasked with spreading misery. The men do this to punish the world for continuing to exist after they perish. In an attention-grabbing first chapter, Shozo Kuki explains the tradition to his youngest son, Fumihiro. Shozo tells Fumihiro he will experience hell when he turns fourteen. Hell will somehow involve Kaori, an orphaned girl Shozo adopted, and to whom Fumihiro becomes attached.

The novel jumps between the formative events of Fumihiro's childhood and the present, more than a dozen years later. The adult Fumihiro has changed his face to match that of Koichi Shintani, a dead man whose identity Fumihiro purchased on the black market. The plot springs forward along three twisted paths. One involves Shintani's past and the baggage that comes with it. Another brings Fumihiro (with Shintani's face) into Kaori's life again, but in a very different role. The third introduces a cultish group of pseudo-terrorists who use absurdity to undermine culture.

Like The Thief, Evil and the Mask is a novel of psychological suspense.
Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By ancient incognito monkey on July 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a page turner and a half, for there is much mystery in this story of a boy who has been told his only purpose in this life is to be a cancer to his fellow humans.

He carries this burden as one might imagine, yet his thoughts and actions are surprisingly delicate. At each turn in his life he will show more grace, intelligence and cunning than we might ever expect from him. As might be expected, he is terribly depressed and the book discusses in depth, the collective human depression of the 20th and 21st centuries. We've endured two world wars and any number of incredibly savage smaller wars on one another. There is cause and there is effect. And ultimately there is much guilt, as well.

Eventually the boy becomes a man and would seem to be stumbling through specific events of his life, even accomplishing much of what he seeks to acheive. But what does he seek? ..........well, it's not for me to reveal but for the reader to discover.

This book opens very powerfully and then settles into a narrative far more sublime, devious and subtle.

Great book, so poetically and personally written, I gifted myself stolen moments to continue.

I confess I love Japanese authors. Theirs is an approach and sensibility quite different from the western one and they express themselves in a unique emotional vocabulary. This book particularly uses it to further the plot and I loved these glimpses.

Nothing is ever what it seems, and very little goes where we expect or what we're been accustomed to in our narratives.

You know how it begins - with a little boy, a little girl and a very old and devious father, but nothing and no one are exactly what you think. The ending is perfect. Now I will read Mr. Nakamura's first book. :)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amelia Gremelspacher TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a quote from the conversation between the narrator and his sixy year old father. Certainly it is one of the most arresting opening scenes which I have ever read. The father is vastly wealthy and accordingly powerful and claims that this tradition has been followed intermittently through the years. Kuki is then introduced to Kaori, a fellow eleven year old girl, who has been adopted and grows up with him. They are lovers as the years progress, but the father's abuse of Kaori poisons their physical love.

At the end of the first chapter, Kuki reveals to is that his father is too late. Kuki is already a cancer because he had brooded over killing his father for years. The father is certainly creepy and undoubtably evil. But I never really got a sure handle on Kuki. The twists and turns of this story are designed to keep us off balance. I know that Kuki loves Kaori and will do anything to protect her. But if I HAD to give you just one meaningful spoiler, I would be hard pressed to do so.

The writing is well articulated and clear in its meaning. Even with the impossible plot switchbacks, I felt I was following the author's development of his story. The character development is fascinating. You might find yourself muttering to yourself several times, but that still doesn't change the fact that this is an intriguing little story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ted Feit VINE VOICE on November 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In this author's second novel to be excellently translated into English, a story in an extremely different genre takes the reader into the realm of crime noir of an unusual nature. It tells the story of an 11-year-old boy whose father informs him that he is to be trained to become a "cancer" on the world, creating havoc and misery wherever he goes. The family, it seems, has developed a long line of such evil, each generation spawning one such monster.

So the training begins, and a young girl is brought in to become a companion to the boy. They fall in love, part of the father's plan to subject the boy to "hell" at some future date. Instead the boy, three years later, murders his father and consequently ends up just as he might have had the original plan come to fruition. He spends his life thereafter trying to hide from the very fact that he has committed the ultimate crime and, at the same time, trying to protect the girl from evil.

The prose is as simple and straightforward as the tale is twisted. It is a far different effort from this author's previous novel, "The Thief," which also described an antihero, albeit of a different stripe. This book is a complicated crime novel with deep psychological undertones into the minds of warped persons. It is told in the first person by the protagonist as he endures the horrors to which he is subjected, yet demonstrating his efforts to overcome the onus of what he has done and his background.

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