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Strangers Paperback – September 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 203 pages
  • Publisher: Vertical; 1st American Ed edition (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932234039
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932234039
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,488,731 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The author, one of Japan’s best scriptwriters, tells a story about what he knows best. This is an interesting glimpse into Japanese pop culture. His storyline is so poignant, so emotional, it will have you hoping every character will come out ahead." -- Heartland Reviews

"Yamada has gained accolades from substantial writers such as David Mitchell and Bret Easton Ellis, but this novel is more a gentle entertainment than a serious psychic disturbance." - James Urquhart, Daily Telegraph

"(A) story that pens in spare strokes a portrait of urban alienation. (...) Less subtle, unfortunately, are the vagaries of the translation into American English. (...) What survives, however, is a memorably uncanny tapestry, and a powerful atmosphere, of heat and rain and sorrow." - Steven Poole, The Guardian

"Strangers is written with a clarity I have come to recognise as Japanese." - Kate Kellaway, The Observer

"Strangers is written with a tone that reveals great emotional discernment." - Peter Burnett, Scotland on Sunday

"What might have been a simple ghost story evolves into a psychologically acute portrait of a man unused to being cared for. (...) All of this manages to survive a poor translation that renders a delicate tale in clunking prose" - Patrick Ness, Sunday Telegraph

"Taichi Yamada's Strangers is a very efficient and chilling up-dating, to the 1980s (when it was written in Japanese), of a Noh-play-type story: of ghostly spirits filtering through into the living world, and of how the spirit must be put to rest by the living." - Anthony Thwaite, Sunday Telegraph

"As an exploration of the power of delusion, Strangers is not without interest. As a ghost story, however, it is not very frightening." - William Skidelsky, Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Taichi Yamada, one of Japan's most successful scriptwriters, transformed the TV drama in his country and has authored several acclaimed novels. Strangers, a contemporary classic, is his English-language debut.

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

A quick and easy read.
Craobh Rua
This is very much a book of building tension and ever-increasing unease, and very well done.
Rich Stoehr
And the ending seemed a little contrived for my taste.
An admirer of Saul

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on October 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
Succinctly translated into English by Wayne Lammers, Strangers is a Japanese novel by Taichi Yamada of a jaded TV scriptwriter who feels pangs of loneliness, and encounters an ordinary workingman that is, eerily, the very mirror image of the father he lost years ago in a tragic accident that orphaned him. Hauntingly told, with a sublimely subtle undercurrent to the tides of emotion, Strangers is an unforgettable journey through memories and the inner striving to reach out and contact others.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Stephen B. O'Blenis on December 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Strangers" is a very diiferent kind of ghost story, full of the physchological, the metaphysical and the allegorical. The book's protagonist, Harada, is a recently-divorced writer for Japanese television, and a jaded and solitary character he is, to much more of an extent than he realizes. Although he's a very believable individual character, he also is something of a metaphor for some of the more unsettling trends in the world today. Subtly bitter over his divorce and having given up on the notion of romantic love, he's also allowed himself to drift apart from his son over the years to the point where they're practically strangers to one another. A very successful and very respected writer in his field - a position many would envy - he's become cynical and skeptical over his art and his profession for little apparant reason. Approached often with overtures of friendship both from within his line of work and from without - including a beautiful young woman named Kei who also lives in the appartment building he does (used mostly nowadays as rentals for daytime office space) he seems at best unaware of the admiration his younger co-workers have for him and his achievements, and at worst dismissive of these efforts at making friends - including that from the lonely and mysterious Kei - to the point of considering them impolite intrusions.

And then one day he walks into a nightclub and encounters the spitting image of his father - who died decades before, but not only looks and acts exactly the same but seems to recognize Harada and see nothing unusual about their bumping into each other this way. And through his father he also meets with his mother, who also died decades before.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rich Stoehr on August 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
It seems like everyone in Hideo Harada's life is a stranger. His ex-wife, who agreed to a divorce because of the growing distance between them. His estranged son, who sides with his mother and barely speaks to Harada anymore. His colleague, with whom he works well but doesn't really know.

And then there are his new acquaintances. The fragile, mysterious Kei, who lives in the same building he does and shows up at his door late one evening. And the man he meets in a darkened theatre near where he grew up, the man who bears a striking resemblance to Harada's father, dead since Harada was twelve.

When I first bought "Strangers," I saw that it was touted as a ghost story on the cover, and I was concerned that it would ruin the surprise in the story. Fortunately, I was mostly wrong. It's not an obvious ghost story at the beginning, but from the first few pages, when screenwriter Harada becomes aware that he is alone in his apartment building at night, it has the feel of a good ghost story. This is a feeling which is built upon as the story progresses, gradually and subtly. There are no "gotcha" moments, nothing which jumps out and declares itself as That Spooky Thing. This isn't a book about shambling zombies or ghosts coming to attack you out of the television. This is a story about creeping dread and the growing feeling that something, somewhere you can't quite see it, is just a little bit off.

In terms of execution, overall it comes off very well. Some of the dialogue may seem a little clunky (I suspect that this may be to do with the translation), but most of it works just fine.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kali on September 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
A middle-aged, cynical and now divorced TV scriptwriter Harada is living a lonely self-contained life in his work-come-apartment when on the spur of the moment he returns to the dilapidated downtown district of Tokyo where he grew up. Orphaned at an early age and raised first by his grandfather and then his Uncle, Harada is very much removed from human emotions, unhappy but not knowing understanding that he is unhappy he is looking for something that he is not able to find in the modern world that he has to live in.

Whilst wandering through his old childhood home he visits a theatre and meets a man who looks exactly like his long-dead father with a wife who is the image of his equally long dead mother.

And so begins Harada's journey into the land of strangers, as he's drawn into a reality where his parents appear to be alive at the exact age they had been when they had died so many years before.

Is he living a dream? Are these people real? What is happening to him? A spooky ghost story with a modern twist, well worth a read.
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