Thursday, May 21, 2009


Japanese ghost stories. Not a genre that I have much knowledge of.

The quote by Brett Easton Ellis on the cover almost made me put it back on the shelf, but the review on the back cover promising a cross between 'Paul Auster at his best' and 'a very Japanese ghost story' swung it.

Yamada's fictional Tokyo has many similarities with Paul Auster's New York – the eery surreality of the setting and the self-contained absorption and focus of the central character could have come straight out of one of his early novels.

The ghostly elements of the story aren't particularly scary or shocking or surprising, but the grief and longing of the characters is beautifully rendered and there is a psychological depth to them that is surprisingly moving.

The American translation can be a bit annoying in places, but for the most part it is unobtrusive and the spooky detachment of the writing is allowed to take hold. I found myself swept along by the story, enjoying the weirdness and content to follow wherever it took me.

It reminded me of The Sixth Sense in some ways, and anyone looking for a bit of left-field fiction that keeps challenging you all the way through should find plenty to enjoy here.

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