I LOVE FRANCE
And maybe you do too!
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By Éric Faye
Translated by Emily Boyce
Publisher: Gallic Books
US Pub. Date: Jan 13, 2015
Originally published in French in 2010
Pages: PB, 112
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MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK
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.
VERDICT: With a thriller like final twist, this French literary novella, based on a true story reported in Fukuoka, speaks about sense of identity and place, or lack of it, in our modern society in crisis. Nagasaki is brilliant in ambiance and writing style.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT
In a house on a suburban street in Nagasaki, meteorologist Shimura Kobo lives quietly on his own. Or so he believes. Food begins to go missing. Perturbed by this threat to his orderly life, Shimura sets up a webcam to monitor his home. But though eager to identify his intruder, is Shimura really prepared for what the camera will reveal? This prize‐winning novel is a moving tale of alienation in the modern world. [provided by the publisher]
PRAISE FOR Nagasaki
‘Feels authentically Japanese despite the fact that it is written by a Frenchman. It has the mannered tone and slightly off-kilter sensibility of a Murakami or Yamada novel but without the need to resort to magic realism. It feels both ordinary and extraordinary at the same time.’ Me and My Big Mouth
‘An excellent read, a thought-provoking look at the loneliness of modern life. It’s a book which makes the reader think about their own social ties, wondering if they too might be looking forward to empty twilight years. And, of course, the book has one other effect on the reader – you won’t be forgetting to check your doors and windows in a hurry…’ Tony’s Reading List
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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NOVEL SET IN JAPAN?
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