Review by Booklist Review
Twenty-year-old Eiji Miyake comes to Tokyo from rural Japan, haunted by the ghost of his twin sister and driven to discover a single secret: Who is their father? A chance encounter plunges him into the nightmarish world of the Yakuza (Japanese Mafia), who may just tell him the answer if he can live long enough. Mitchell's stunning second novel is many things, all of them wonderful: a literary tale that plumbs Raymond Chandler, an exploration of the urban mindscape, a wide-eyed look at the world that's not afraid to ask big questions. As Miyake wonders if he is defined only by his quest, the author uses his protagonist as a means to explore the power of words, the role of dreams, and the nature of reality. Mitchell, who lives in Hiroshima, seems to grab both the mythology and the modern patois of his adopted country and writes with a voice that is both timeless and urgently of the moment. Flexing his considerable stylistic muscle, he plays with form while hewing true to a tightly plotted tale that pulls you along, wondering where it will all end--that, and what all the Beatles references mean. This is a terrific book. --Keir Graff
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
A young Japanese man's quest to find his estranged parents throws him into a bizarre world of mobsters, dream villains and cyber-tricksters in Mitchell's second novel (after Ghostwritten), a hyperactive, erratic sprawl of a book that begins when narrator Eiji Miyake finds himself out on his own after his twin sister, Anju, dies: his alcoholic mother had had a nervous breakdown and left her two children with their grandmother when they were very young, and they have never met their father. Miyake makes the move from rural Japan to Tokyo to stake out the company where his father is a powerful executive. But his search lands him in a nebulous yet dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with an equally powerful Japanese mobster who uses Miyake's need to find his parents to kidnap and threaten him in a series of malevolent and nearly inexplicable scenes. The most coherent sequence in the narrative takes place when Miyake is contacted by his grandfather, a former seaman who gives Miyake his diary, a poignant account of his stint on a submarine in the final days of WWII, as the Japanese frantically scrambled to deploy a new undersea warhead. Miyake eventually manages to meet his parents, but those potentially affecting scenes are overwhelmed and overshadowed by Mitchell's relentless tendency to spin out futuristic, over-the-top scenarios in which Miyake is whisked away into strange settings and then abused as if he were the hero in a deadly video game. Mitchell showed considerable promise in his highly acclaimed debut, but his sophomore effort is so chaotic that it will test even the most diligent and devoted reader. (Feb. 26) Forecast: Rave reviews from the British press, a Booker Prize nomination and a five-city author tour will give this challenging novel a needed boost. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
Hiroshima resident Mitchell's startling and original debut, Ghostwritten, took place all over the globe. But his second work lands firmly in Japan, where a young boy looks for the father who denies his existence. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
A wildly inventive set of variations on an abandoned young Japanese man's Sisyphean search for his father under the aegis of John Lennon and the mystical number nine. Eiji Miyake's quest starts off with a bang as he proceeds from the Jupiter Cafe to the behemoth PanOpticon building, disguised as an aquarium serviceman, to extract at gunpoint his father's address from his attorney, who turns out to be a bioborg replicant. Or he phones her in a halfhearted attempt to make an appointment. Or he follows her to a cinema where she's meeting his father. Or-in a scenario that seems just as real as the others-he attempts to bluff his way into the building. This hall of mirrors opens into a roistering, episodic tale that moves back and forth between Eiji's childhood-where, spurned by the minister who supported his illegitimate twins financially but refused to see them or their mother, Eiji unwittingly sacrificed his sister Anju to the thunder god-and his increasingly baroque plans to track down his father in a postmodern Tokyo where waking and dreaming, people and computers are virtually indistinguishable. His feckless schemes immerse him in an acquaintance's hard-nosed plot to get revenge on the girlfriend who stood him up, as well as a Yakuza war over the market for illegally harvested human organs, and project his search onto his grandfather's testing of a desperate WWII anti-American weapon and an alter ego who clamors for the audience his animal fable offers. All the while, apparently minor characters-a computer nerd at the lost-property office, a female private eye, a Jupiter Cafe waitress with a perfect neck-gradually assume an importance of truly paranoiac dimensions. Booker nominee Mitchell (Ghostwritten, 2000) offers fans of Kafka, Pynchon, and DeLillo state-of-the-art dreams of a Tokyo landscape that could have come straight out of a video game. A demented, maddeningly playful, important book. Author tour
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