Nagasaki

Nagasaki - Éric Faye;Emily Boyce (Translator) I received an ARC copy of the e-book version of this novel from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

A very interesting story set in, as you can guess, Nagasaki. Our protagonist lives alone, by design rather than necessity. Alone, a cog in a much larger machine, a low level and low pay grade meteorologist who creates comfort, without any attempt at meaning or fulfillment in his life, by the strict adherence to routine. He avoids the company of workmates because that would disrupt his daily structure. He doesn’t trust anything or anyone outside himself anyway and minimizes all contact with people in the workplace or outside. It has been over a year since he has seen a member of his own family. At work he immerses himself in weather patterns; at home his nightly rituals.

He is an island.

Until he realizes that he isn’t alone. Someone is in his home. Eating his food. Walking his house. Invading his world. He is no longer alone. He has been violated.

If this story were written by an American author the story would have gone one way. Probably the confrontation of the individualist (we all think of ourselves that way, right? even though it is the punchline from a joke—sure, you are unique, just like everybody else) with the intruder. Gogol or Kafka would have gone another way—the inevitable violation of the individual by a stronger force. But this story is set in Japan and it is very different in ways that I did not expect. Much more personal. Much more moving. With a perspective shift (which often don’t work but this time does very well) near the end that makes us re-evaluate our feelings toward the entire story.