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ME: A Novel Paperback – June 6, 2017
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"ME is a searing critique of how the individual's sense of self erodes under the weight of modern urban culture in Japan. As Hoshino tilts the reader into a schizophrenic questioning of identity, it is easy to forget how the story started: a common, two-bit crime in a McDonald's. The ease with which Hoshino leads Hitoshi--and the reader--into a vertiginous alternate reality is so seamless that the novel requires a second read to fully appreciate its nuances. A testament to Hoshino's imagination and ambition, ME is a delightfully surprising and bizarre story which develops into a masterful interrogation of how individuals and families come to terms with themselves in an ever-evolving society that is often just as confused as the people themselves."
--Harvard Review Online
"A cell phone stolen on a whim turns into a full-blown scam when Hitoshi pretends to be someone else to line his own pockets, but he quickly finds his deception is unnecessary--everybody, even his own mother, sees him as the man whose identity he stole. In this reflective novel, Tomoyuki Hoshino explores the nature of identity while providing commentary on Japanese society as a whole."
--World Literature Today
"It's an excellent take on the problems of Japanese society, looking at what it means to play your role in the community while keeping a sense of individuality. However, in Hoshino's trademark style, what starts off as a story based in reality very quickly pushes the envelope in terms of everyday life, soon taking us into far more speculative territory."
--Tony's Reading List (blog)
"Tomoyuki Hoshino's ME is a daring literary triumph, unlike any book you're likely to read this year or any other. Inventive, absurd, and thrilling, Hoshino draws upon the work of a wide array of literary masters--Abe, Camus, Vonnegut, and Chandler--to create a character and world that's wholly unique. A thoughtful, somewhat surreal exploration of the darkest self-reflexive tendencies of this modern moment. I strongly recommend it."
--Joe Meno, author of Marvel and a Wonder
"There is more than a little of a great episode of Black Mirror in Tomoyuki Hoshino's funny, frightening ME. But ME is considerably more than a clever premise, and as I moved deeper into mental and physical dislocation alongside its hero, I felt my own sense of reality being pulled apart. Hoshino's sharp, understated prose, in Charles De Wolf's excellent translation, is what makes this incredible journey possible. The whole is both pleasurable and profound.
--Laird Hunt, author of The Evening Road
About the Author
Kenzaburo Oe is considered one of the most dynamic and revolutionary writers to have emerged in Japan since World War II, and is acknowledged as the first truly modern Japanese writer. He is known for his powerful accounts of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and his struggle to come to terms with a mentally handicapped son. His prolific body of work has won almost every major international honor, including the 1989 Prix Europalia and the 1994 Nobel Prize for Literature. His many translated works include A Personal Matter (1964), Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness (1969), The Silent Cry (1967), Hiroshima Notes (1965), and Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids (1958).
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
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Besides being confused, Im bored. Time to find a Murakami novel that i haven't read.
What begins as a story that is about telephone scams quickly turns into a con artist being conned, but conned by his own self or the self he posed himself to be? While I was entertained while I read, I soon found myself trying to deconstruct the underlying message of the book, which to be honest, I found to be more complex than I thought.
The inter-weavings of “ME” left me thinking about what it means to be defined as one complete whole and how the “ME” in all of us is not always true given certain sets of circumstances. I found the juxtaposition of a Westernized Japan — McDonalds, with a stereotypical Japan — technology & cameras, perhaps the basis of the movement between traditional and modern Japanese paradigms expected by a broader reading audience.
While not my favorite read — certainly not a story I regret reading. Would I recommend this one? Yes….will I read it again down the road….probably not. But then again, that is just ME.
The book was originally published in Japanese in 2010 by Shinchosha.
This edition was translated by Charles De Wolf with an afterword by Kenzaburo Oe.
There are 6 chapters with an afterword and a translator’s note.
The translator’s note was very interesting and helpful. The afterword was interesting (in that it tried to explain the plot a bit) but it left me even more confused. According to the book jacket and press release, this book ME and its author enjoyed much success and raving reviews.
I must confess (embarrassingly) that after finishing the book and rereading several passages multiple times, I still didn’t understand the story. It ‘seems’ to be about self-identity and takes place in contemporary Japan. It is a very strange story and, at times, feels like a story about zombies. But except for the ‘contemporary Japan bit, I am lost.
The language, while very descriptive, sharp and personal, is a bit ‘off’ in its cadence. Maybe it is the awkwardness of a translation or just Japanese speech patterns - I don’t know.
I am very put off by the constant trips to McDonald’s. I cringed every time it was mentioned. It was nauseating.
I am very confused. I started off by not liking the (I think) main character, Hitoshi Nagano, for being a petty thief and an immature whiney guy. But I didn’t like Daiki Hiyana, either (The guy at McDonald’s whose phone was taken by Hitoshi). When Daiki’s mother turned up at Hitoshi’s apartment, I was shaking my head. Huh? I don’t think I ever really followed the plot even when I read the ending, the afterword, the book jacket and press release. And then there is the Hitoshi imposter at Hitoshi’s house. Yikes!
Important words seem to be self-identity, self-worth, selfishness and self-absorption. He (I think I mean Hitoshi) kept feeling non-existent and belonging nowhere.
p. 109 MEs are US (3 people as 1) An attempt at an explanation.
Are MEs immature or symbols of immaturity?
We have multiple stabbings, a hanging, people pushed in front of trains, fires, cannibalism and zombie-like creatures. Is any of this real?
I have no sense of a Japanese consciousness/personality or sense of place.
As you can guess, I didn’t ‘get’ the book, but I did appreciate the opportunity to read something completely different and intriguing.