Azuchi’s portrait of earnestly naïve protagonist Kojima acquires a “stranger-in-a-strange-land” flavor as the urban-banker-turned-supermarket-chain-manager assists the chain’s managing director—his cousin—in the provinces. He learns the ropes of the “SSDDS” (self-service discount department store), which features clothing as well as groceries, discovering passions in himself for display banners and shiny floors as he confronts a new world of opportunities. Set amidst office politics so intense that subversive employees literally slice into each other swearing blood oaths, Kojima’s story is a tale of corporate capitalism, of acquisitions and mergers, of entrenched loyalties. Although Western readers may tire of flipping back for help in differentiating the unfamiliarly named, they will find quite compelling such moments as when Kojima, heeding the advice of outside consultant Kameyama, begins uncovering a trusted employee’s theft of high-end meat and also financial records in turmoil. A consistently strong seller since its first publication in 1981, this novel about Japan’s obsession with business will absorb and inform American Japanophiles. --Whitney Scott
About the Author
Satoshi Azuchi was born in Tokyo. After graduating from the University of Tokyo’s Faculty of Law, he went to work at the Summit chain of supermarkets, and helped make what was then a middle-ranking firm into one of the top chains in Japan. Azuchi made his writing debut in 1981 with Distribution Industry, the Novel, later retitled Supermarket. Since, Supermarket has been a consistant top seller in Japan, and is considered a classic of modern Japanese literature.