I really enjoyed this book about a man who discovers a woman has been secretly living in his home. It focuses more on the the inner feelings and motivations of these two in the aftermath of such a discovery. Sometimes less is more in this short book, leaving me to ponder deeper questions. Beautifully crafted and written, it is one I will not soon forget.
Nagasaki is an unusual book... Though the book is titled after the location, it could have honestly been set anywhere, with just a few tweaks to the descriptions. It doesn't feel like it's specifically tied to one location. There are descriptions given of the trappings within the house that are certainly Japanese - such as tatami mats and rice cookers - but the story itself is centered more on the events and the location seems more of an afterthought, which makes the naming of the book seem strange to me.
The story itself falls a little into the creepy side. Imagine coming from from work to your locked house, where you live alone, and finding that yet again food is missing from your fridge. All of your valuables are there, but one day yogurt is missing. The next, maybe some juice. It's enough to make you think that you're crazy, because how could this be happening?
The end result is even stranger. When Shimura Kobo sets up a web cam in his kitchen to catch the intruder, I think he is surprised to see someone actually appear. Calling the cops should be the end of the story, but the reality behind this women and her appearance in his house is where the real story is.
Overall, I'll give this four stars. It ended a little abruptly for my taste, but it certainly is a story that made me think.
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
I received an ARC copy of the e-book version of this novel from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
A very interesting story set in, as you can guess, Nagasaki. Our protagonist lives alone, by design rather than necessity. Alone, a cog in a much larger machine, a low level and low pay grade meteorologist who creates comfort, without any attempt at meaning or fulfillment in his life, by the strict adherence to routine. He avoids the company of workmates because that would disrupt his daily structure. He doesn’t trust anything or anyone outside himself anyway and minimizes all contact with people in the workplace or outside. It has been over a year since he has seen a member of his own family. At work he immerses himself in weather patterns; at home his nightly rituals.
He is an island.
Until he realizes that he isn’t alone. Someone is in his home. Eating his food. Walking his house. Invading his world. He is no longer alone. He has been violated.
If this story were written by an American author the story would have gone one way. Probably the confrontation of the individualist (we all think of ourselves that way, right? even though it is the punchline from a joke—sure, you are unique, just like everybody else) with the intruder. Gogol or Kafka would have gone another way—the inevitable violation of the individual by a stronger force. But this story is set in Japan and it is very different in ways that I did not expect. Much more personal. Much more moving. With a perspective shift (which often don’t work but this time does very well) near the end that makes us re-evaluate our feelings toward the entire story.
In a Nagasaki suburb, fifty-six years old meteorologist Shimura Kobo enjoys being a solitary man. For instance, instead of occasionally joining his colleagues for drinks after work, the bachelor prefers no deviation from his daily routine, which means go home.
However, Shimura notices minute deviations to his orderly life, but assumes it is his imagination running wild. One day he feels ill so he comes home early only to find proof that his paranoia is based on reality; someone drank half of his juice while he was at work. Though he loathes to do so, Shimura changes his daily routine; instead of going home he take the tram to Hamanomachi to buy monitoring equipment so he can observe his kitchen from his office computer. After setting up the camera in his kitchen, Shimura struggles to do anything at work but watch the monitor. Seeing tiny differences in what he perceives he left in his kitchen to what he observes on his screen, the meteorologist rationalizes these are in his head until he witnesses the fruit juice thief.
Based on a 2008 event in Japan, this profound psychological novella with no action takes an insightful look at how two middle age people react to living alone. Whereas Shimura thrives on a solo act; the house invader desperately seeks belonging (Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs third level). Selecting this house eventually makes sense to the audience.
Life of Shimura, a 56-year old Catholic in Nagasaki, is upturned when he discovers a stowaway who has been living in his home for over one-year. He feels lost and gives up his home for sale, while the stowaway, a woman of 58, writes to him why she lived in his home. The analogy of Europeans as stowaways is beautiful, but only till you realize that the outsider is not so much an outsider once the past is dug out.
This was my first book by Faye and I must say that his style and that of Modiano are quite similar as they leave a taste of lingering melancholia. The difference however is that Modiano leaves the mysteries unsolved, while Faye solves them.