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Paprika (Vintage Contemporaries Original) Paperback – February 12, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

At Tokyo’s Institute for Psychiatric Research, beautiful, 29-year-old psychiatrist Atsuko Chiba is effecting rapid cures of schizophrenia. Using devices developed by colleague Kosaku Tokita, a grotesquely obese and child-like genius, Atsuko enters patients’ dreams and participates in them, and she and Tokita have been short-listed for the Nobel Prize. But for reasons of professional jealousy, hubris, and twisted sexual desire, a doctor and a top administrator at the institute steal the devices and begin to “infect” staff members with schizophrenia. Only Atsuko can oppose them, and she must do that in both the real world and the nightmarish dreams of the victims. Tsutsui is one of Japan’s leading science-fiction authors, and Paprika, published in Japan in 1993, was also made into an animated film. Some U.S. readers may have difficulty accepting some of the book’s premises; for instance, that schizophrenia could be sent into “remission” in a day or two. Others might question the nature of relationships between men and women that Paprika posits. But those who suspend disbelief will be entertained and likely made deeply curious about Japanese culture and society. --Thomas Gaughan

Review

“Yasutaka Tsutsui is the doyen of avant-garde Japanese writers. His work is by turns innovative, thought-provoking and – not least – extremely entertaining.”
The Independent (UK)
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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries Original
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (February 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780307389183
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307389183
  • ASIN: 0307389189
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

In the novel version I have to admit that I felt bogged down at times by too much unimportant information.
Christopher Barrett
This is set against a backdrop of science and technology running amok without the proper safeguards of moral principles, ethics, and a keen sense of good and evil.
Avril Sol
This book is kind of a combo of mystery and science fiction, and starts out pretty normal but gets really weird partway through.
Tomorryo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By JPV on September 14, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's so surprising to me that this book isn't as popular as it should be in America. It has every element that I think a lot of people want in a novel. It's incredibly smart in both dialog and story line, and it's interesting in a scientific way, as well as in an artful, darkly surreal way. His thought processes as he writes are acute and effective yet beautifully detached and creative. He goes through people's inner dialogs in an incredibly psychiatric way--like he wants to subtly point out everybody's neurosis, thereby creating a theme. It certainly set up a certain aura. However, it turns out the translation is pretty weak, but I forget about that as I read it because the story is so unique and engaging.
I can only hope that the anime can attract people's attention to the book. While the anime is beautiful and perfect for Satoshi Kon's visual style, the book is a totally individual experience
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mark #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 18, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Paprika (Vintage Contemporaries Original) is a thought provoking novel that blends science fiction with philosophy, psychology and literature of the grandest tradition. Yet despite all these superlatives, I cannot say that this novel is bound to be appreciated by everybody. Nor can I say that many of the criticisms of it have been invalid. Where I take a different perspective is in the reasoning behind the criticisms. While many seem to blame the translation, I suspect that this book was written this way intentionally and translated as intended. There are just certain themes that may have a different context within the cultural world of Japan.

Like many readers, I selected this book as somebody who had some background on it. I am a huge admirer of Satoshi Kon, whose anime interpretation of this book Paprika was, unfortunately, his last work. I always felt disappointed that I could not read the book upon which that anime was based. Luckily for me, this translation was made available in less time than it has taken me to gain an ability to read Japanese.

In many ways, Kon's visualization is very true to this book. The problem is that the technical nature of writing makes telling this story in this format much more laborious. At the same time, some may simply appreciate the visual appeal of such abstract moving images a lot more than words. So much of this book occurs in a dream state, it is understandable that it translated so well to the anime format.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Note: Paprika is a re-release of a 2009 pressing. It is now being published under Random House's Vintage Contemporaries Original press. Both releases are translated by Andrew Driver.

Paprika by Yasutaka Tsutsui is a curious, mildly compelling, and needlessly complicated mystery done up in a fantastical style. The characters are text-entombed anime caricatures with cerebral superpowers that allow them to observe and control dreams through collectors and receptor gorgons under the guise of psychotherapy.

Paprika is a Nobel Prize wanna-win, employed as a psychotherapist at The Institute for Psychiatric Research. Her chief superpower is stunning beauty, with its accompanying - and inexplicable - promiscuity. She is supposed to be legendary and highly effective, despite her own very loose scruples. Everyone wants her, and at one point, Paprika turns her nose up at a man who she has "decided" can rape her. When he fails to be able to do so, she decries his actions as behavior "unbecoming of a psychotherapist". She blames his failure to perform on being overawed by her beauty. (Uh huh ...) At another point, Paprika has virtual sex with a client, and only much later wonders whether this was unethical.

Throw in some Jungian Collective Unconscious gone seriously awry, a scene straight out of a Japanese horror flik involving a TV screen, made-up words like "dreason" (dream + reason), an unusual spin on Christianity, a dash of Buddhism, time travel, a hint of Bob Newhart ... and perhaps some bafflement is to be expected. Even Japanese dolls abound with black circle eyes that could made Bart Simpson go epileptic.

Suffice to say, certain parts of Paprika make no sense at all, even within its anime execution and premise of dream entry and manipulation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael Demeritt VINE VOICE on April 17, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Anytime you pick up a book that has been translated across a language subset (Germanic to Romantic, for example) the translator is inevitably faced with either trying to save the prose, or save the story. I suspect translation may play a role in the difficult read that is Paprika, released in English for the first time in 2013 by Vintage Original. The story is compelling. An institute of psychiatry discovered a way to visually monitor dreams, and then improved the scanners to the point where an analyst could enter into a subject's dream. Trouble is, there appears to be a risk of exposure - your brain affected by the subject's, Schizophrenia now contagious. Or... Is it?

Paprika was made into a mind blowing anime film released in 2006, as hard to follow as the book, but plays on that chord of "is this dream or not" that the tune stays with you even if you find yourself not understanding the lyric's meaning. Paprika, the book, has this perplexing habit of restating elements it has established before, often in the prior paragraph, to the point where it becomes irritating. The flow of language is choppy, having moments of description that seem rather primary and character motivation that is crudely thought out at best. Then it gives you a stretch of compelling interplay, or complex imagery, or grand concept that keeps you attuned to an otherwise flawed tale.

The strength of the book is the subject matter, the idea that a business man suffering from a paranoid anxiety could be treated by a gifted therapist by entering and gaining understanding of his dreams. If you are into Jung at all, you need to read this.
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