Tokyo Redux

I waited 12 years for David Peace to write the final installment in his Tokyo Trilogy, plus an extra year for it to come out in paperback, and somehow another year after buying it to actually read it. Sometimes anticipation makes me wary. I loved Tokyo Year Zero and Occupied City. Peace’s writing in this trilogy draws from the style of Japanese authors, particularly Ryūnosuke Akutagawa. It’s a dark and unsettling series, meticulously researched so that his fiction feels like it fills the gaps in the historical record with truth.

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A Very Normal Man

A Very Normal Man, the first book by Vincenzo Cerami, who is better known to me as the screenwriter for Roberto Benigni’s film Life Is Beautiful, follows the dark turn that civil servant Giovanni Vivaldi’s life takes when he seeks revenge on an enemy. The English title is a dull approximation of the Italian Un Borghese Piccolo Piccolo – a very small, very middle class man.

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Keeper is the debut novel by Jessica Moor, published in 2020. It tells the story of Katie Straw, who works in a women’s refuge, and flicks between time periods labelled Then and Now. The plot explores violence against women and girls. Moor herself has worked in the violence against women and girls sector. Her experiences inform her narrative.

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An interstellar event that happened 30 years in the past is at the centre of Laura Lam’s Goldilocks. The novel begins with one of the people who was involved in the event and its consequences finally deciding to break her silence.

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Under the Skin

Under the Skin is Michel Faber’s debut novel. I borrowed it from a friend after watching the film of the same title, directed by Jonathan Glazer and starring Scarlett Johansson. I’m glad that I read the book after the film, because there is only a loose connection between the two. I love the film, but I wonder whether I would feel the same if I’d read the book first and seen the film as an adaptation of the book.

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The Box Man

Kōbō Abe is a writer I struggled with when I read his most famous book, The Woman in the Dunes. His dreamlike, psychological horror bent my brain. The Box Man promised a similar trip, as it follows a man who chooses to live inside a cardboard box, rejecting the normality of his previous existence in favour of the tenuous reality contained within his mind.

I’ve had the book on my To Read pile for almost 5 years, so I decided to add it to my 10 Books of Summer reading list. It turns out that its claustrophobic setting fitted well with the unusually oppressive sweltering heat of July in the UK.

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