a dedicated dilettante
A review of The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura. Translated by Satoko Izumo and Stephen Coates. Audio book read by Charlie Thurston
The Thief is that rare combination of being thought-provoking and thoroughly entertaining. It chock full of compelling, memorable characters, a storyline that pulls you in and keeps you in during entire literary ride and the landscape of the story, contemporary, seedy Japan, is brilliant. There are times I can almost sense the infamous pushers cramming people into the trains. As with any translation where one cannot read the source, it’s difficult to say how well written it is. However, this translation is written exceptionally well with crisp, spare dialog and evocative descriptions. I can only conclude that Messrs. Izumo and Coates must have done a masterful job based a great source. Despite the tragic nature of the world which our characters inhabit as well as their own tragic nature, this is an exceptional novel with a very different look at life that provides a flat-out great story. I highly recommend it.
For those who love audiobooks, I also commend the narration of Charlie Thurston. While he’s not Japanese, he seems to be move (or at least speak) comfortably in a Japanese setting. It was a delight to be able to use Whispersync (about which more here, if interested) to jump between my Kindle version and the Audible recording without back tracking or loosing my spot.
For full review: wp.me/p2XCwQ-f6
author has writing and storytelling potential. it was not fully realized here, but it was still a decent story. would read another of his books.
José M. Batista
I suspect it is a cultural thing: all I can say is that I did not connect with the main character (or any character for that matter) and the story did not make sense for me.
may be among first 3 among this will be one.
yeah.it is nice. v e r y g o o d.
I read this novel described somewhere as a tale of "existential dread." As such, it's good. The protagonist's life choices--to make a living through petty theft--separate him from the collective--the community--that is so vital to Japanese culture, and yet he forms a micro-community with other lost souls like himself. The antagonist, Kizaki, mocks him and his friend Ishikawa for this very desire to connect with others. He claims that suffering is just fate, that the end of life is fated, that one life matters no more than another. The protagonist asks himself why his own life matters, even to himself.
I wish I'd read this book in the old-fashioned way, both so I could reread and ponder a bit more and because the narrator is rather annoying. His villain-voice makes Kizaki sound like an old-fashioned mustache-twirler, and sometimes his voice drops to such a low pitch that I couldn't even hear it. The little-kid voice makes the kid sound bratty and tedious. The reader is a perfect fit for the protagonist...just not for anyone else.
The book started out as an interesting peek into the world of a professional pick-pocket in Japan, the writing was crafted well enough to keep the interest up and the world was strange enough to keep the i-pod on play. A shift happens in the story where some mastermind takes over the control of this guys life and things get stupid, and the story never gets any better right up to the ending which is less plausible than the rest of the story. I had high hopes for this story to be an interesting departure from the usual, unfortunately it descended into a morass of boredom.
I???m not normally one for books told from the career criminal???s point of view. In most cases I???m not sympathetic to them, regardless of the real or imagined traumas that led them to their lives of crime, and I???m rarely swayed or intrigued by their angst or their revelling in the misery they inflict. So a story told by a pickpocket should not, on past experience, have engaged me at all but it did. It may have something to do with the fact that the eponymous thief (named only once as Nishimura) doesn???t delve deeply into the morality of his actions (aside from a claim to only steal from rich people) and certainly doesn???t spend time justifying himself. He is what he is and rather dispassionately tells his story which I somehow found more acceptable than the books which give lengthy reasons for a person becoming a life-long criminal.
There is also, at least on the surface, is not a lot going on here in that rather than a major story arc the book concerns itself with an almost random slice of Nishimura???s life which is another reason I ought not to have been engrossed in the book as that kind of thing often irks me. But with THE THIEF almost immediately I did want to know what troubles would befall the narrator (there was never even a glimmer that his life would bring something other than troubles). Somehow his detachment and reserve made me hang on for the few tiny morsels that would provide insight into the man, his personal history and his ultimate fate.
Some of THE THIEF borders on the surreal, the female characters are prostitutes or dead (downtrodden women are a feature of all the Japanese crime fiction I have read) and the ending is as ambiguous as it gets which are all more reasons why I would normally not enjoy a book. And yet I listened to the whole thing in a single sitting almost without noticing the time passing. I am glad to have read the book and would recommend to those prepared for something a little different.
Audiobooks have literally changed my life. I now actually ENJOY doing mindless chores because they give me plenty of listening time!
The Thief in question is a talented pickpocket who takes pleasure in stealing from the rich and prides himself on the skill with which he can separate any man from his wallet. He's got the whole process down to a science, isn't wanting for anything and enjoys his freedom and independence. Things start changing for him when he encounters a young boy who is forced by his mother to steal groceries. The boy is needing some tips on how to become a more accomplished thief and our man is only too glad to share his knowledge on that score. Then an old thieving partner reappears in his life and gets him involved in an assignment he can't refuse; participating in an armed robbery for the Yakuza. The plan is meticulously worked out and the reap seems too good to be true. The Thief has misgivings about the robbery and his suspicions are about to prove to be well founded. This is a good story which is sure to appeal to many, but which for some reason failed to grab me, so I was all the more happy that this was a short affair.
He was competent but not adequate to bring the story to life for me.
Probably a simple matter of translating cultural differences between the author's society and mine. There were too many of them to make the story a comfortable read.
Ordered this by mistake. I meant to order the same title by Clive Cussler. Loved the Cussler book. The Nakamura was the worst. Too bad.