The Thief is a seasoned pickpocket. Anonymous in his tailored suit, he weaves in and out of Tokyo crowds, stealing wallets from strangers so smoothly that sometimes he doesn't even remember the snatch. Most people are just a blur to him; nameless faces from whom he chooses his victims. He has no family, no friends, no connections....
But he does have a past, which finally catches up with him when Ishikawa, his first partner, reappears in his life and offers him a job he can't refuse. It's an easy job: tie up an old rich man and steal the contents of a safe. No one gets hurt.
Only the day after the job does he learn that the old man was a prominent politician, and that he was brutally killed after the robbery. And now the Thief is caught in a tangle even he might not be able to escape.
©2009 Fuminori Nakamura; 2012 Satoko Izumo (P)2012 BBC America
“I was deeply impressed with The Thief. It is fresh.” (Kenzaburo Oe, Nobel Prize–winning author of A Personal Matter)
“Compulsively readable for its portrait of a dark, crumbling, graffiti-scarred Tokyo—and the desire to understand the mysterious thief.” (Booklist)
“Disguised as fast-paced, shock-fueled crime fiction, Thief resonates even more as a treatise on contemporary disconnect and paralyzing isolation.... Mystery/crime aficionados with exacting literary standards, as well as readers familiar with already-established-in-translation Japanese writers Miyuki Miyabe (Shadow Family), Natsuo Kirino (Out, Grotesque), and Keigo Higashino (Naoko, The Devotion of Suspect X), will especially enjoy discovering Nakamura.” (Library Journal)
The good news is that this book is short, so if it doesn't float your boat, you haven't lost much time. I'm not sure that there is anything wrong with the book per se other than the fact I just don't care for the characters or the themes. I'm sure there are people out there who will respond positively to this book...I'm just not one of them!
It does pick up quite a bit in the second half and I was on the verge of liking the book, but I found the ending unsatisfying.
Elderly (1932), retired university professor, degrees in engineering and economics.
As I read (listened) to this book, my mind was drawn back to many years ago to the themes found in the writings of Jack Kerouac, which swept college campuses across the country. Nakamura approaches the timeless questions of value choices we must confront when searching to find meaning and direction in lives created day by day.
He poses the timeless questions of good and evil, of love, hate or total indifference. Is it moral to live solely for myself and by myself? Was the Master Thief an evil man? He did take what was not his, but belonged to another. What if the owner was evil and harmed innocents? Is it immoral to steal from an immoral man? And, if the thief uses his stolen fortunes to save and shelter an endangered innocent, is his own life evil?
I am not familiar with the author. This is the first of his books I have read. It is encouraging to find that we have fresh writers to carry on the quests of earlier generations. If you are looking for just another cops and robbers read, this is not for you.
Great Story. Easy to follow even though it's translated from Japanese. Gritty, hard edged story. Well told and a good reader for the most part. Story is short put packs a wallop. The main bad guy is really evil and spooky.... and someone that will always keep you thinking about what lies in the shadows of the underworld. If you like dark thrillers then this one is for you. Note it is a bit short but it packs more into a little than much larger novels that are just trying to fill pages.
This is a phenomenal short story. Starts off exciting and never stops. The narrator was perfect for the book and the author did a great job developing the characters.
This is my first book by this author and I enjoyed it. The narration created vivid images of the characters and scenes in my mind. The story ends inconclusively. I guess there will be a sequel.
The story has its moments and the reader is OK as a narrator but when he acts out a character he's terrible.
The perspective mixed perfectly with the story. I liked the first person narrative and how he meshed with the little boy. A reluctant master with an eager apprentice.
Not really. But I found this book to be driven well by its characters, not necessarily by its plot.
First time with Charlie Thurston, I liked him a lot.
Yes, I didn't think it would be going in, but the book just sort of flew by.
I'm terrible at writing reviews, but I do love to listen to a good book. Been a member since 2006, very happy to be an Audible friend.
Not sure, would need to be in the mood. I think something got missed in the translation.
common, indistinct and plain
Could be a better moving than book / audiobook
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
Reader, Listener, Optimist
Nakamura's plot is actually clever and occasionally suspenseful, but the translation and reading spoil any chance of appreciation for the writing. The translator chose to occasionally insert bits of out-of-place american slang for these japanese characters speaking in their native country. The result sounded preposterous and highlighted the deficiency of the translation.
Charlie Thurston (the reader) has such a limited range that he attempted to distinguish the voices by simply deepening his voice and slowing the pace of delivery. That might work if there were only two characters, but instead, every male other than the protagonist sounded identical. It reminded me of a child trying naively to imitate the voice of an adult. I am reminded of five-year-old Danny in Kubrick's The Shining, talking to his finger in that scary gravelly murmur.
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