Kōdansha (Kōdansha Bunko), 2017. 512 pp. ¥880. ISBN 978-4-06-293721-4.
Also published in: Chinese (traditional characters)
Taiwan, 1975: In this year marked by the death of the generalissimo Chiang Kaishek, the novel’s young protagonist, Qiusheng, loses his grandfather, brutally killed by a person or persons unknown. His grandfather had fought for the Kuomintang against the Communists in mainland China before fleeing to Taiwan after their defeat. There are stories that he was also involved in some grisly incidents during World War II, including the massacre of a Chinese clan suspected of working for the Japanese Army. But who would want to kill him now, when those events are far distant memory? And why? These are the questions that constantly gnaw at Qiusheng throughout an impressionable, reckless youth. When he is discovered taking an important exam on behalf of a disreputable friend, he finds himself stuck in a school for students with no prospects, regularly getting into fights and experiencing his first taste of the joys and sorrows of love. Later, visiting Japan and finally China, he comes face-to-face with the secrets surrounding his grandfather’s death.
The author’s family, originally from Taiwan, moved to Japan when the author was nine years old. This background gives the book literary significance as a story by a writer who could be categorized as an immigrant author, tracing his roots in Japanese. But more important still are the natural flow and humor of the writing and its thrilling story. Combining a requiem to his father’s and grandfather’s generations with a coming-of-age story, this is a remarkable bildungsroman with universal appeal. (NK)
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