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Naoko: A Novel Paperback – August 1, 2004
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“Higashino is a deft conjurer of human relationships, and while this is first and foremost a tale of grief— thankfully, no one calls Naoko a story of redemption—he infuses it with spasms of sharp humor.” —East Bay Express
“The novel flips suddenly…in wonderfully pleasing fashion, from pathetic tragedy to social satire and domestic comedy with themes of love, work, sex and education. How could we have ever imagined, without the help of a novel like this, that Japanese life could be so fraught with suffering and so entertaining all at once?” —Alan Cheuse for the Dallas Morning News
"It's the realness of the characters ..that makes the fantastic story more believable and harder to put down." - Mecha Mecha Media Blogspot
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Top Customer Reviews
The characters and what happens to them brought out very real emotions in me. I unconsciously made faces as I reacted to what was happening. This was one of those books that really touched me and I can't recommend it enough. I feel like I have had, or could have, the same feelings and fears that are displayed in this book. That helped me identify with the characters and I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a deep, personal, and very interesting story.
Naoko dies in the bus crash, while Monami is left in a coma. When Monami regains consciousness, she tells Heisuke she is Naoko, that the spirit of the mother has taken over the body of the daughter.
What follows are the social and psychological consequences of this apparently supernatural event, for Heisuke, and for Naoko/Monami. They decide to tell no one, to keep it a secret. In fact, the Japanese title of the book, Himitsu, means Secret. Once Heisuke becomes convinced that the metempsychosis is real, and permanent, he grieves because he has lost his daughter, while all those about him think he has lost his wife. For "Naoko" to maintain their secret, she must continue Monami's life as an elementary school student.
The author, Keigo Higashino, carefully and skillfully works out the logical consequences of this event. How would a married man, of normal sexual desires, deal with a situation where the spirit of his wife is inhabiting the body of his young daughter? Higashino does deal with the issue of conjugal relations, although briefly, and in a non-salacious way. Most of the book dwells on the development of Naoko/Monami, as she matures socially.Read more ›
I expected a mystery novel, but the central mystery introduced at the beginning (why the bus crashed) turns out to be not so important. This isn't a bad thing; I got a richly woven tale that left me thinking a lot about some of its themes, like identity, social conformity, second chances.
The translation seems . . . competent. I can't read Japanese, but I suspect that the original flows much better than this translation. The dialogue occasionally comes across as slightly stilted or unlike the speech of actual people. That said, this book was good enough that I would rather read a faulty translation than not read it at all. Recommended to fans of dark fiction.
When author Keigo Higashino is focused on this complex relationship, his novel is quite involving and even moving, although it is not as suspenseful or edgy as the cover copy would have us believe. Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of extraneous material to slow down a narrative that is already rather relaxed and subdued. I kept waiting for Heisuke's investigation into the circumstances of the bus crash and the driver's background to tie in with the main narrative, but it never did. I also couldn't help thinking that, given Naoko's detailed knowledge of her own life, they probably could have convinced members of Naoko's family about what had happened, thereby sharing the burden. However, the end of the novel is quite touching and satisfactory.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a remarkable book. Fascinating premise well developed. Strong sympathetic characters. Very thought provoking. Great book for a group discussion. Read morePublished 8 months ago by NC
Dreadfully dull. Male perspective all the way. Not mysterious. Not profound. A slow laborious read.Published 12 months ago by Timothy S. Chamberlain
This is a haunting story of a man puzzled and confused about changing gender roles in Japanese society. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Larry Reed
It's a great book. So stop scrolling through the long ass reviews and get it already.Published 23 months ago by Tanner Heaven
Metempsychosis, the transmigration of the soul, is usually played for laughs or horror, but Higashino treats it as a reality for the two protagonists. Read morePublished on July 9, 2014 by JK
It had been a while since I had read a book that I just could not put down. The story is so unique though the premise is so strange the writing makes it believable and it keeps you... Read morePublished on March 19, 2014 by Dan
This is an emotionally complex novel about a man who loses his wife to a tragic ski bus accident when a bus carrying his wife and a 12 year old daughter crashes down a cliff due to... Read morePublished on January 25, 2014 by keita
My new favorite author. I hope more of his books will be translated into English. Check out Devotion of Suspect X.Published on April 12, 2013 by Clara125
I'm about halfway through this book and all I can say is wow. This book is very interesting and I enjoy the plot. Can't wait to read what happens next.Published on February 8, 2013 by Jon