Saturday, February 9, 2013

Book Notes — The Thief, Fuminori Nakamura

If writers were generals, young Fuminori Nakamura would have an embarrassment of metals and ribbons on his chest  — including a chance at The Los Angeles Times best thriller/suspense for 2012.  The Thief is his first book translated into English.  It won’t be his last.

Words and sentences are razor slices, forceful.  Quick and short.  Tough as well as elegant as they are, the minimized narrative and terse dialogue deliver surprisingly full-bodied, fully textured inner and outer worlds.  As a reader I was involuntarily swept along. Later, backing off a bit and looking at it as a writer, I wanted to understand the brush strokes of his work.  I wanted to know how he packed so much feeling into this brief, unsentimentally written book.

The story is not complex.  I would pose that it contrasts a man who lives in a world he creates and controls. We might find his life sad, tawdry, but it is not without meaning for him.  It has value here and there.  His pickpocket profession is not without some measure of fulfillment. He has talent, enjoys challenges, appreciates in a modest way his accomplishments.  He is not propelled by ambition or greed.  One could easily conclude that it is art that he practices.

One mistake. He allows others to enter his sphere — and we can argue fate and free will if we choose.  Or we can say that this is Noir.  One mistake.  That’s all you get.

The Thief is published by Soho Press and translated by Satoko Izumo and Stephen Coates


Unknown said...

I enjoy the blog, and I have it on my Google Reader so as not to miss any posts. I'll know when it goes active again. Take care.

Ronald Tierney said...

Thanks. Your blog is part of my morning ritual. A great way to start the day.

J. Kingston Pierce said...

I look forward to your return, Ron.