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Occupied City Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 2, 2010

Book 2 of 2 in the Tokyo Trilogy Series

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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (February 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780307263759
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307263759
  • ASIN: 0307263754
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,067,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Set in 1948 and based on a Japanese murder case, Peace's second novel in his Tokyo trilogy (after Tokyo Year Zero) is a tour de force. One afternoon, just after closing, a man posing as a health official arrives at a Tokyo bank. He gets the bank's employees to ingest poison by pretending to inoculate them against dysentery, then escapes with the bank's money. In Roshomon fashion, a number of disparate characters, including Murray Thompson, an American army doctor who's convinced the Japanese are lying about bioweapons experimentation, offer dramatically different perspectives on a horrific crime that claims 12 lives. By presenting these points of view through newspaper articles, police reports, and letters to a faraway spouse, Peace humanizes his characters and provides subtle insights into how they interpret the facts of the mass murder. This literary thriller will more than satisfy readers with a taste for ambiguity. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* In January 1948, in occupied Tokyo, a bizarre bank robbery accomplished by convincing every bank employee to take a preventive medication against dysentery left 12 dead and 4 gravely ill. The crime is the impetus for a Rashomon-like retelling of the event by deceased victims, survivors, police, a journalist, a member of the American occupation force, a Japanese soldier turned war criminal turned gangster turned businessman, and others. Their stories comprise tales of war, war crimes, government treacheries, suffering, despair, and madness. A survivor feels terribly guilt for having survived both the poisoning and the war, which killed almost everyone she knew. A journalist, anxious to scoop competitors, poses as a doctor to get to a survivor and ultimately falls in love with her. A police detective goes mad from his hatred of the American occupiers. The reality of a massive city literally reduced to ashes by fire bombing, the barbarities of Japanese biological warfare experiments that went unpunished in war-crimes tribunals, and the simple idea that all men are guilty, are guilty of something, underlies every tale. Occupied City is a stunning—and stunningly challenging—novel, a product of extensive historical research, remarkable imagination, and deep insight. It is certainly among the best books of the new year. --Thomas Gaughan

Customer Reviews

2.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In this heart-thumping experimental novel which bursts the bounds of the usual genre categories, British author David Peace creates an impressionistic story of a real Tokyo bank robbery and the deaths of twelve bank employees on January 26, 1948. A man representing himself as a doctor investigating a case of potentially fatal dysentery in the neighborhood appears at the Shiina-Machi branch of the Teikoku Bank, saying he must inoculate all the employees in the bank against this disease. Two minutes after receiving the medication, sixteen victims, writhing in agony, have fallen unconscious, and twelve of them die, poisoned with cyanide. The physician then removes the day's receipts and disappears.

As detectives investigate those who might have had access to cyanide, they pursue an artist who uses cyanide in making tempura paints-a man who already has a history of fraud. The man is arrested and jailed, though a witness has stated unequivocally that he is not the killer. Further investigation of this crime involves a wide-ranging study of Japan's use of biological warfare in Manchuria, before and during World War II. Cyanide was the subject of much research and experimentation there by the Japanese Pingfan Army Unit 731, the chemical lab unit, and any one of the Pingfan soldiers could have committed these murders. Further investigation suggests that officials from all sides have colluded in a coverup of biological weapons programs.

The author uses a Rashomon-like structure for the novel, featuring twelve different narrators, each of whom, illuminated by a candle, tells his own story regarding the bank robbery and then blows out his candle, creating a darker and darker atmosphere until the final narrator leaves the participants in the dark--at the edge of the abyss.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By abulaafia on June 11, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Others have reviewed the content of this book, I will not go into details. The story is highly pertinent and feels terribly relevant in today's world. The lies, the deceit, the helplessness of ordinary citizens ... all that is captured well. This is literature, or at the very least a valiant literary effort far beyond the average crime novel.

I am European and have studied Japanese and Japanese literature. Knowing the works Peace himself refers to in the acknowledgments helps a lot in understanding the structure of this book. From the very beginning, one feels reminded of Soseki & Co. "Konna yume-wo mita ...". The First Night ...

Peace uses the instruments of Japanese dream and crime fiction of the turn of the century, such as ellipsis, repetition, etc.; many of which are still very much present in modern Japanese works. He does so with aplomb, and only rarely stumbles.

The problem with this approach in an English novel is that many of the tools of Japanese fiction are by definition extensions of the Japanese language. They only work to their full effect in Japanese. Whole chapters full of ellipses are normal in Japanese, where even in ordinary speech sentences are very often incomplete, where, in fact, incompleteness is a sign of high style, of literacy. The same style in English sounds highly contrived. Incomplete statements in Japanese are often completed by the context, or the context of similar statements in other situations. That is completely lost in English. The endless repetitions are unoffensive in Japanese, where poetic style has always been part of ordinary prose, and prose itself, one may say, does not exist as separate from poetry as it does in English.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on February 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Those who are familiar with the work of David Peace, particularly TOKYO YEAR ZERO, are forewarned to expect the unexpected. Peace's latest book, OCCUPIED CITY, is no exception. While not a sequel to the 2007 novel, it certainly continues some of those themes. Tokyo is totally if uneasily occupied by American forces in 1948; the focus of the title, however, is on a mass murderer who arises from the indigenous population to wreak havoc, if briefly, upon the populace.

OCCUPIED CITY is based on a real-world occurrence that took place in post-war Tokyo. A man who identified himself as a physician attached to the national government entered a bank at closing time and announced that it had been exposed to a contaminant. He proceeded to administer an antidote to the bank employees and customers who were present. The antidote was in fact a fast-acting poison that killed 12 people. A suspect was quickly apprehended, tried and convicted of the crime. Although he died in prison, appeals to clear his name continue to the present.

What Peace does is present the prism of the incident and its aftermath from a number of points of view over the course of 12 chapters, or "candles." These range from the murdered victims whose collective consciousness --- caught between life and death --- give voice to a haunting, unforgettable chorus to a survivor who feels guilt and a quiet madness in which nothing will ever be as it seems again. Yet another candle consists of the case file of the murder investigation, which reflects the notes of a detective who ultimately helps crack the case but who may be relying too much on instinct and supposition. The accused murderer is also heard from.
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More About the Author

David Peace is the author of the Red Riding Quartet, GB84, The Damned Utd, Tokyo Year Zero, and Occupied City. He was chosen as one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists of 2003, and has received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the German Crime Fiction Award, and France's Grand Prix du Roman Noir for Best Foreign Novel. In 2007, he was named as GQ (UK) Writer of the Year. He lived in Tokyo for fifteen years before returning to his native Yorkshire.