Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Villain by Shuichi Yoshida

Villain by Shuichi Yoshida (2011, 304 pages, translated by Phillip Gabriel)

A Japanese Noir Murder Mystery

Parrish Lantern and Bellazza have recently done excellent comprehensive posts on  Villain by Shuichi Yoshida (1968-Japan-multi-award winning writer) It is the author's first work to be translated into English.   Recently I wrote that if there is a general theme to the post WWII Japanese novel (one of the cultural glories of the 20th century and beyond) it is the struggle to find a way to live in a world in which all fixed values have been destroyed.    The cultural effects of the defeat of the Japanese in WWII have lingered on long after the economic consequences have been overcome many times over.   

Villain is about the efforts of the police to find who murdered a young woman found on a lonely road in a bad part of town.   It is a work of gritty realism with a good bit of sexual content including a visit to a massage parlor.  The women in the novel are all pretty young and work as clerks.   No one here is a highly paid professional.   It was fun to see how they regarded and made use of online dating services.    It was a little shocking to see how the women sort of blurred the line between dating and prostitution.   In one seen I was really surprised when one of the women charged her date to take a picture of her.

Parrish Lantern and Bellazza have explained enough of the themes of the book for those interested.    

This book is for sure worth reading for those into gritty crime novels.

Mel u


Bellezza said...

I'm glad you read it, too, Mel. You bring up an interesting point that I keep forgetting about post WWII Japan: "the struggle to find a way to live in a world in which all fixed values have been destroyed." As I read that line, and sat thinking about it, I find myself feeling that America is struggling with the same issue. Although we did not have the devastation of WWII, I see the moral fibre of our society eroding more quickly than ever. In the name of "freedom" and "rights" we have come to think that every behavior is acceptable. Now I'm getting on a jag which is althogether different from this book or your post, I guess I'm just sharing a connection to your thoughts from my own perspective. At any rate, this was a most fascinating book. One of my favorite reads for the summer.

Mel u said...

Bellazza-thanks for your very thoughtful remarks-we can also see a similar think happening in the London riots-I think in Japan it happened all at once and can be traced to the Emperor saying he was not a God and Japanese people realizing there leaders had used them and lied to them

JoV said...

This sounds wicked... another to add for a Japanese crime fiction because I don't know many... did you buy the book Mel?

Harvee said...

The main character in the novel gets caught up in the moral morass. An amazing novel.

@parridhlantern said...

Thanks for the mention, It's amazing how much post war Japanese lit, is about the conflict between the traditional values & a modern consumer driven society, whether this is used a major theme or is just part of the background to the novel.