- Paperback: 112 pages
- Publisher: Gallic Books (January 20, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 190831365X
- ISBN-13: 978-1908313652
- Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.2 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,481,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Nagasaki Paperback – January 20, 2015
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About the Author
Emily Boyce: Emily Boyce is in-house translator for Gallic Books. She lives in London
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Top customer reviews
This new book received from Gallic Books is set in Japan, but it has been written originally in French by a French author. Nagasaki is a literary novella based on a true story, reported in Japanese newspapers in 2008. But the author adds to it a very interesting twist.
Shimura, 56, is “disappointed to have reached middle age so quickly.” He is stuck in his habits and rigid routine.
One day though, he comes back home earlier than usual, and seems to notice strange things happening in his house. Food and drink seem to be disappearing, even though all the doors are locked. To be sure he is not dreaming the whole thing, he methodically installs a webcam in his kitchen, keeps an eye on it from his office, and one day does indeed find something is going on. What will he do with this information? I will let you discover by yourself, but know that from then on, his life will be changed forever.
I really liked the literary style. It actually did feel quite Japanese in tone, with the description of places and people, even though it was written by a French author. There are interesting references to Japan’s history, with parallels between Shimura’s adventure and the story of Nagasaki with Europe as its intruder.
There’s also constant mention of the perpetual annoying background sound of cicadas. I ignored there were cicadas in Japan, but living near Chicago, I know what he means!
I enjoyed the change of narrator, at a key point in the story. This short piece is about identity and sense of place in our modern society, in the context of economic crisis.
The ending remains open, and it it is rather sad, which is not unusual for a French author, as you would know by now if you read my reviews.
A very interesting story set in, as you can guess, Nagasaki. Our protagonist lives alone, by design rather than necessity. Alone, a cog in a much larger machine, a low level and low pay grade meteorologist who creates comfort, without any attempt at meaning or fulfillment in his life, by the strict adherence to routine. He avoids the company of workmates because that would disrupt his daily structure. He doesn’t trust anything or anyone outside himself anyway and minimizes all contact with people in the workplace or outside. It has been over a year since he has seen a member of his own family. At work he immerses himself in weather patterns; at home his nightly rituals.
He is an island.
Until he realizes that he isn’t alone. Someone is in his home. Eating his food. Walking his house. Invading his world. He is no longer alone. He has been violated.
If this story were written by an American author the story would have gone one way. Probably the confrontation of the individualist (we all think of ourselves that way, right? even though it is the punchline from a joke—sure, you are unique, just like everybody else) with the intruder. Gogol or Kafka would have gone another way—the inevitable violation of the individual by a stronger force. But this story is set in Japan and it is very different in ways that I did not expect. Much more personal. Much more moving. With a perspective shift (which often don’t work but this time does very well) near the end that makes us re-evaluate our feelings toward the entire story.
The story itself falls a little into the creepy side. Imagine coming from from work to your locked house, where you live alone, and finding that yet again food is missing from your fridge. All of your valuables are there, but one day yogurt is missing. The next, maybe some juice. It's enough to make you think that you're crazy, because how could this be happening?
The end result is even stranger. When Shimura Kobo sets up a web cam in his kitchen to catch the intruder, I think he is surprised to see someone actually appear. Calling the cops should be the end of the story, but the reality behind this women and her appearance in his house is where the real story is.
Overall, I'll give this four stars. It ended a little abruptly for my taste, but it certainly is a story that made me think.
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
This was my first book by Faye and I must say that his style and that of Modiano are quite similar as they leave a taste of lingering melancholia. The difference however is that Modiano leaves the mysteries unsolved, while Faye solves them.