SEVENTEEN Excellently written and translated. Gives a real insight in what is going on behind the scenes to get a newspaper on the street. The characterization of individuals makes them alive. Highly recommended
This was a book that once started you have great difficulty in putting down. It has many layers and textures to it and although the pace may be perceived as gentle it all builds up to a some what life enhancing conclusion.
The book begins in 2003 where Kazumasa Yuuki a reporter on the North Kanto Times (a Japanese regional newspaper) is about to embark on a mountain rock climbing expedition with the son of a former colleague Kyoichiro Anzai,. This same attempt was due to made in 1985 by Yuuki and Anzal but events intervened to prevent this. Now ascending the climb, Yuuki looks back to 1985 when an airline disaster occurring in the precinct of the newspaper would transform his life. The crash of Japan Airlines Flight 123 was a real event and this story interweaves the factual narrative of this tragedy against the fictional world of the newspaper's coverage.
This book accurately covers the power struggles and Machiavellian behaviour that are inherent in such an organisation and it is made all the more believable by the fact that the author worked as a journalist on such a regional newspaper and would therefore see at first hand the conflicts and intrigues of daily life. There is a huge range of characters here and the understanding of the story in my opinion is certainly helped by the useful glossary that is provided at the end of the book.
This story covers not only politics and power struggles but also working and family relationships and how the quest for the truth can be more problematic than it would initially seem. A book that has great heart and also an underlying spiritual element to it with a life enhancing conclusion. I would thoroughly recommend this to those who would like to try something that is a bit different from the normal.
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for this honest review.
Yuuki Kazumasa is a senior too smart for his own good (and others too as it turns out) reporter that gets himself assigned to a command position during a down aircraft. Let's just say that it doesn't work out too well for reasons, and the fallout continues for him years later (alongside an unforgivable incident that he had a hand in causing by being unapproachable at exactly the wrong time). Fifteen years later, Yuuki attempts to understand what had taken place during that time, because the consequences of not figuring this out would jeopardize his career and possibly his life.
We are not given to know the managing editor's choice of translators, but Louise Kawai did an exceptional job with the literary translation keeping much of the atmosphere intact and giving good dialogue translations that unlike most literal Japanese translations was not overly curt or primitive in diction. The translation conveys the ambiguity and the doublespeak between the various characters and adds to both the bureaucratic and office mystery that this book offers. The mystery of the incident as well as the present mystery of the office are captured well in the interactions.
Interesting, if sometimes slow, novel about Japanese journalism and a man looking back at the choices he made. Kazumasa Yuuki frames the story as he attempts a challenging climb up a mountain with the son of his dead friend and colleague. Set in 2003, it is a look back at 1985 and how Yuuki and his colleagues covered the crash of a JAL plane. I know this was originally published in 2003 and is only now being brought to us in translation but I'm most curious how this would change if it were more current. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. This is a good chance to read a quite popular Japanese author.