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Paprika (Vintage Contemporaries) 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


“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
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (February 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307389189
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307389183
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mark #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 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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13 of 16 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 FredTownWard VINE VOICE on May 29, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a wild and disturbing SF novel based on the premise that in the near future technology has been developed to allow psychiatrists to observe, even invade and manipulate the dreams of their patients in order to treat them. Patients have been cured using this method; however, there are risks: doctors can become trapped inside their patients' subconscious, even be driven insane.

This isn't even the half of it!

There are people who oppose this sort of technology and will do anything to stop it. So when Dr. Kosaku Tokita, the (almost?) mad genius behind it creates a stunningly advanced next generation device, all his prototypes are stolen and his assistant disappears. Meanwhile the colleague who used his first generation devices to cure people even back when it was illegal to do so, Dr. Atsuko Chiba, is called upon to revive her former secret identity as Paprika, the Dream Detective, in order to treat some high level patients who need to conceal the fact that they have any mental issues. In the process she picks up images leaking from the new devices and figures out who took them, but reveals herself in the process. Soon there is an all out war being fought in the dreams of the various combatants as their dream powers keep growing in strength until things from their dreams begin to manifest themselves in the real world.

Then all Hell breaks loose.

I was initially worried I'd have difficulty following the plot as even the characters find themselves unable to distinguish between dreams and reality, especially when dream constructs start leaking into the real world, but it turned out not to be that difficult. Maybe that's why unlike some reviewers I DIDN'T find the writing tedious or repetitive.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Harkius VINE VOICE on April 16, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
One of the most common complaints that I have heard about Haruki Murakami's writing is that he unnecessarily and obliquely Americanizes Japanese culture and Japan. This happens so systematically and subtly that people who are familiar with his works who then travel to Japan find themselves in an almost alien world, devoid of the Japan that Murakami describes. To some extent, I think that this is going to affect the people who read Murakami and then pick this up.

For example, Mr. Dick Johnson, whose reviews I always enjoy and often agree with, says, "Due to the style used by Tsutsui, it will be compared with the books of Haruki Murakami. However, the writing is not at the level of Murakami's, and, while Murakami is also often even more confusing, at the end the reader feels there was some reason for it (usually I sense I'm the one who should have understood the message but am too dense to get it)."

I don't think that it's necessarily that the writing is worse, per se. I think that it is that the situations and the story are so much more different, bizarre, and grotesque than Murakami. Nowhere in his pantheon is there anything that FEELS as weird as a giant doll crushing a restaurant (although Colonel Sanders as a pimp or Jack Daniels as a psychopathic cat-killer come close).

I think that the feeling of ALIENNESS is what makes this feel less "good" than Murakami. That said, I also stopped really having any connection to the book as it got more and more bizarre, until I finally said, "Well, ****. Now what's going to happen?" But at that point, I didn't especially feel unwelcome, frustrated, or irritated, like many people did...I just felt baffled. But in a fun way. Mostly.

At the end of the day, I enjoyed the book. I will probably even read it again. But it is strange, and it isn't going to be something that is appropriate for all palates. But if you sometimes revel in the bizarre, you might enjoy this.

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