The Boy in the Earth by Fuminori Nakamura

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This is short (I read it in under two hours or so) but not sweet novella. The mystery is just why the protagonist is so suicidal and whether he can kick the blues and find a reason to live. That it won the Akutagawa Prize tells you that it has literary aspects (so not a lot happens plotwise). But it’s short enough that it all works. It’s bleak but not exclusively so, and it’s thoughtful. But if you are looking for a great Japan crime fiction read, you might be better served by reading a Kenzo Kitakata, or Fuminori’s more engaging The Thief, in my humble opinion.

No. 15 of 100 books I intend to read and review in 2019.

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Patrick Sherriff publishes a monthly newsletter highlighting good fiction about Japan and featuring an original painting or sketch. He lives in Abiko, Japan, with his wife and two daughters.