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Captures aspects of modern Japan with a compelling authenticity and beauty. David Mitchell's second novel was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and it's not hard to see why. The narrative has a langorous, dream-like quality - the result of being structured around Eiji's fantasies. Mitchell writes well in a range of different moods and styles: funny, poignant, humdrum, violent. Most strikingly of all, he depicts Tokyo as a bewildering labyrinth, which provides the perfect backdrop to the desultory wanderings of Eiji's mind.

Resounds to the same marvellous chatter of voices that marked out Ghostwritten , his outstanding first novel. This Booker-shortlisted fantasia confirms the Hiroshima-based Mitchell as the most prodigally gifted of young British novelists Related Reads.

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X We use cookies to enhance your visit to us. Eiji makes contact with Kozue Yamaya, the woman detective who investigated his father for Morino. He asks her to give him the information, but she disappears before answering. Later he is contacted by his grandfather Takara Tsukiyama who asks to meet him.

He also gets back in contact with Ai Imajo. The grandfather doesn't come to the meeting for health reasons. Instead he sends an old friend, Admiral Raizo, who explains to Eiji that his father is a discredited son. He gives Eiji a journal that Mr.

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The chapter alternates between entries from the journal and the events at the video shop. Subaru Tsukiyama was a pilot of kaiten , a torpedo modified with a cockpit, used towards the end of the war for suicide missions against American ships. The journal describes the life of the pilots from training to the end of their mission. But at the fatal moment Subaru's kaiten doesn't explode, it sinks to the sea bottom and he has the time to write his last journal entries before dying.

Eiji passes the days tending the video shop. In the evening he phones Ai and they talk about the meaning of life. She is a pianist and dreams of going to a music school in Paris, but her parents won't let her go. One evening, Suga shows up completely drunk and tells Eiji about a tragic event of his past when he involuntarily caused the death of a child. When Eiji goes to the appointment with his grandfather, his step mother and sister are there instead.

I think I'm turning Japanese

Grandfather has died. They tell him that the man claiming to be Admiral Raizo was actually Mr. Tsukiyama himself. They ask him to leave their family in peace and he accepts: He doesn't want to meet his father anymore. One day he receives a package from Kozue Yamaya: she reveals that, when she was a young mother, she and her baby were kidnapped by Yakuza as payment for her husband's debts and she was forced to prostitute herself.

Her child, also named Eiji, was killed and his organs sold illegally. She managed to escape, became a private eye and dedicated her life to investigating the gang that killed her child.

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  • She is presumed dead but sent discs of information on the Yakuza organ-harvesting ring to several people she trusts, including Eiji. When Suga is discovered trying to break into the Pentagon's computers, the secret service offers him a job working for them in Saratoga, Texas. Before leaving for America he gives Eiji a virus that can spread any kind of information through email.

    Eiji finds a call on his answering machine from someone claiming to be his father. When he goes to the appointment, he finds that he has been tricked by Yakuza in order to collect on unpaid debts left by Morino.

    He and three other men are forced to play a deadly game of cards for the enjoyment of Tsuru. They are saved by Tsuru's death by a stroke and fatal burn from a grill.

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    On his last shift at work, Eiji gets an order from a lawyer working in Panopticon. He realizes that the lawyer is his father, but when he goes to meet him he discovers that he is a selfish and vulgar man and prefers not to reveal his identity. Eiji later uses Suga's virus to send Yamaya's information disc to thousands of e-mail accounts across Japan, including law enforcement.

    Eiji travels to Miyazaki to meet his mother. He travels on board trucks. The drivers tell him their stories and he dreams. When he gets to the clinic where his mother is recovering, they talk and find some understanding. Afterwards, Eiji travels back to Kagoshima. A typhoon breaks out and he is forced to shelter in a garden hut. The next morning he takes the ferry to Yakushima and goes to visit his grandmother's house, but she is not home.

    The radio is on and broadcasting news of a major earthquake in Tokyo. He tries to phone Ai, but cannot get a line. This second novel is a departure from the multi-storied structure of Ghostwritten , instead closely following one character. However, it is anything but a simple linear plot and Mitchell shows once again that he can dazzle and dance throug ' Maybe the meaning of life lies in looking for it.

    However, it is anything but a simple linear plot and Mitchell shows once again that he can dazzle and dance through numerous facets of writing. Moving through a complicated coming-of-age tale that starts small with a quest for ones estranged father under control situations and further expands into a search for the meanings and acceptance of life while caught up in events beyond oneself, Mitchell questions reality and the nature of dreams all set to the soundtrack of the late, great John Lennon. From the very first page, it becomes obvious that Mitchell has grown as a writer in leaps and bounds from his previous novel, which was stunning in its own right.

    Metaphors are used in abundance to create a fanciful nature that occasionally makes the reader wonder if it is even a metaphor at all or just a waking dream. But is it the truth that really matters? This is a novel about the imagination and how we attribute meaning, so truth be damned as we follow Eiji down the rabbit hole.

    John Lennon was reportedly obsessed with the number 9 a very interesting article about that can be read here , which may have taken its root from being born on Oct. Eiji was born on September 9th, and nine years have passed since the tragic episode with his sister. This novel is oversaturated with this mysterious 9, it appears in some form constantly. There are seemingly countless other examples.

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    This book is the greatest Easter egg hunt imaginable. Pure genius. While this novel does not have as dramatic of breaks in form as some of his others, each chapter has a structure unique from all the rest, each with its own purpose. There is the high action fantasies of the first chapter, the reflections of the past in the second, and even an entire collection of stories and letters read later on in the novel, both with a highly original voice from the rest.

    Mitchell is always eager to show his versatility, and fans of this will not be disappointed. The fifth chapter, Study of Tales , is particularly interesting as it gives Mitchell an opportunity to interject his opinions on the novel itself into the plot. Goatwriter perhaps a nod to the idea of ghostwriters presented in Ghostwriten?

    He shows how many authors must eat their words, or even be chased down by the word hounds who force them to be always on the run from their past works. The plight of the novelist is cleverly on display. Here is where the true message of this books high-octane scenes comes to light. Mitchell argues against writing purely for glamour and this novel is a slap in the face to all those who write purely for a widespread audience enjoyment by becoming one of them.