Firstly, I’m changing my review format. I’m not sure if people want to read the long exhausting synopsis in the reviews that bloggers post. Not to mention I usually don’t read blog posts when they’re long and I assume others are just as lazy as I am. So, let me know if you prefer this format. Ok?
Cool. Moving on to the review.
Strangers is a book that’s been on my radar ever since I discovered Japanese fiction and started exploring ‘recommended reading’ lists. This popped up quite often then and the blurb on the back was very interesting.
A divorced, middle aged TV show script writer moves into his office (because he’s given up his home and most of his savings to his ex wife). One day, feeling miserable and lost he decided to go back to his native place to visit his parents’ home. There, at the theatre, during comedy night he spots a man who looks just like his father and it turns out…..he is! While he spends time with the “parents” he missed out on growing up with he also meets a beautiful neighbour, Kei, who likes him despite the massive age difference.
Things happen, he changes and Kei tries to stop him from seeing his parents’ ghosts because he’ll “lose his soul” in the process.
I didn’t get to read it all in one sitting but I could have if I wanted to because it’s just 203 pages long. This is a haunting book indeed. Hideo is great as a character, pathetic and forlorn almost to the point where you cross over from feeling sorry for him to feeling completely…..I can’t think of a word. It’s almost like you wouldn’t care if he dies but then you care about the other people in the story because of what a beautiful picture Hideo paints of them. And Kei, such a brilliantly written character there.
If I had any fault I’d say I wish the ending had been slower and a little different. But then that’s what I like about Japanese authors. They make you think one thing is going to happen and then change it completely at the end.
This is enthralling and engrossing, the kind of book that makes you think about it long after you’ve put it down. Read it if you haven’t already.