Last Winter We Parted.pdf

Last Winter We Parted.pdf



A young writer is assigned a difficult task by his editor: he is to write an investigative biography of a death row inmate named Yudai Kiharazaka, a 35-year-old photographer who has been convicted of the murders of two women. Kiharazaka’s victims—or his “models”—had been burned alive while the photographer tried to capture the perfect picture of their essences. But trying to unearth the truth about Kiharazaka forces the writer to grapple with horrifying archival material and to interview dangerous, grotesque people—not least of all Kiharazaka himself.

Praise for The Thief
Winner of Japan’s Prestigious Ōe Prize
Los Angeles Times Book Prize 2013 Finalist
A Wall Street Journal Best Fiction of 2012 Selection
A World Literature Today Notable Translation

An Amazon Best Mystery/Thriller of the Month

“I was deeply impressed with The Thief. It is fresh. It is sure to enjoy a great deal of attention.”
—Kenzaburō Ōe, Nobel Prize-winning author of A Personal Matter
“Fascinating. I want to write something like The Thief someday myself."
—Natsuo Kirino, bestselling author of Edgar-nominated Out and Grotesque

The Thief brings to mind Highsmith, Mishima and Doestoevsky . . . A chilling existential thriller leaving readers in doubt without making them feel in any way cheated.”
 —Wall Street Journal, Best Book of the Year Selection

“An intelligent, compelling and surprisingly moving tale, and highly recommended.”
The Guardian
 “Nakamura's prose is cut-to-the-bone lean, but it moves across the page with a seductive, even voluptuous agility. I defy you not to finish the book in a single sitting.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch 

“Fuminori Nakamura’s Tokyo is not a city of bright lights, bleeding-edge technology, and harajuku girls with bubblegum pink hair. In Nakamura’s Japan, the lights are broken, the knives are bloodier than the tech, and the harajuku girls are aging single mothers turning tricks in cheap tracksuits. His grasp of the seamy underbelly of the city is why Nakamura is one of the most award-winning young guns of Japanese hardboiled detective writing.”
Daily Beast

“It's simple and utterly compelling - great beach reading for the deeply cynical. If you crossed Michael Connelly and Camus and translated it from Japanese.”

Sacramento Bee
, “Page-Turner” Pick

“Nakamura’s writing is spare, taut, with riveting descriptions . . . Nakamura conjures dread, and considers philosophical questions of fate and control . . . For all the thief’s anonymity, we come to know his skill, his powerlessness and his reach for life.”
—Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Nakamura’s memorable antihero, at once as believably efficient as Donald Westlake’s Parker and as disaffected as a Camus protagonist, will impress genre and literary readers alike."
Publishers Weekly

“Compulsively readable for its portrait of a dark, crumbling, graffiti-scarred Tokyo—and the desire to understand the mysterious thief.”
“Disguised as fast-paced, shock-fueled crime fiction, Thief resonates even more as a treatise on contemporary disconnect and paralyzing isolation.”
Library Journal

“Nakamura’s dark imagination gives rise to his literary world . . . the influences of Kafka and Dostoyevsky are not hard to spot.
—The Japan Times

“Fast-paced, elegantly written, and rife with the symbols of inevitability.”

"The Thief manages to wrap you up in its pages, tightly, before you are quite aware of it."
—Mystery Scene
“[An] extremely well-written tale . . . Readers will be enthralled by this story that offers an extremely surprising ending.”
Suspense Magazine
“Nakamura succeeds in creating a complicated crime novel in which the focus is not on the crimes themselves but rather on the psychology and physicality of the criminal. The book’s power inheres in the voice of the thief, which is itself as meticulously rendered as the thief’s every action.”
—Three Percent
“Both a crime thriller and a character study, it is a unique and engrossing read, keeping a distant yet thoughtful eye on the people it follows . . . It’s a haunting undercurrent, making The Thief a book that’s hard to shake once you’ve read it.”
—Mystery People
“The drily philosophical tone and the noir atmosphere combine perfectly, providing a rapid and enjoyable ‘read’ that is nonetheless cool and distant, provoking the reader to think about (as much as experience) the tale.”
—International Noir Fiction

Praise for Evil and the Mask
"Karma runs thicker than blood in Evil and the Mask, the thought-provoking and unpredictable new novel by the Japanese zen-noir master Fuminori Nakamura."
Wall Street Journal

"This literary thriller steeps the reader in humanity’s dark nature and the struggle of those who try to resist their own moral corruption."
Library Journal

“Deals with basic questions of good and evil, guilt and remorse. Cryptic detectives, smoky nightclubs, and murky streets in Japanese suburbs add to the noir sensibility. At times bizarre, at times hallucinatory, the story is always provocative.”
Publishers Weekly

"Evil and the Mask is a hard-to-put-down novel of ideas and a savage comment on nihilism, both Japanese and global . . . Shouldn't be missed."
Booklist, Starred Review

"Deliciously twisted . . . Nakamura bend[s] the line between what is good and what is evil until it nearly breaks. It’s impressive how a book so dark can be so much fun." 

"This literary thriller steeps the reader in humanity’s dark nature and the struggle of those who try to resist their own moral corruption."
Library Journal

"Evil and the Mask is concerned with a twisty sense of morality: is Fumihiro born evil, and can he escape the cruelty associated with his surname?"

"Evil and the Mask is a brilliant novel from one of Japan’s most current authors . . . If you love Patricia Highsmith, you’ll love Nakamura."
Globe and Mail
"Evil and the Mask is an engrossing account . . . The story is violent, revengeful, and often disagreeable but it still contains that hypnotic voice that makes you want to read more." 
Midwest Book Review 

Evil and the Mask delves even further into the dark . . . [It] grapples with murder, war and a deep distrust of society that manifests itself in disturbing ways.”
The Japan Times

Evil and the Mask, the second book of his to be available in English, is undoubtedly the narrative that will help cement him as the new master of Japanese noir . . . an absolute must-read."
Out of the Gutter Magazine

"[Evil and the Mask is] full of themes that everyone can appreciate . . . Nakamura blurs the line between light and dark, good and evil. He illustrates that nothing in life is completely black and white." 
Tulsa Books Examiner

Fuminori Nakamura was born in 1977 and graduated from Fukushima University in 2000. He has won numerous prizes for his writing, including the Oe Prize, Japan’s largest literary award, and the prestigious Akutagawa Prize. The Thief, his first novel to be translated into English, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He is the recipient of the David L. Goodis Award for Noir Fiction. He lives in Tokyo with his wife.

“It's safe to say you killed them . . . Isn’t that right?”
        The man’s expression does not change when I say this to him. He is wearing a black sweat suit, his body leaning lazily in his chair. If the transparent acrylic glass
weren’t between us, would I be afraid? His cheeks are hollow, his eyes slightly sunken.
       “I’ve had my doubts all along but . . . why did you . . . after the murder, Akiko’s . . .”
       —Don’t jump to conclusions, he says.
       He remains expressionless. He seems neither sad nor angry. He just seems tired. The man had been born tired.
       —I think I’ll ask the questions, for a change.
       I can hear his voice quite clearly even through the acrylic glass.
       —Are you . . . prepared?
       The air suddenly grows chilly.
       —I’m asking if you’re prepared.
       The man is looking straight at me. He hasn’t shifted his gaze once, not for some time now.
       —You want to know what’s inside my mind. Isn’t that right? . . .Why I committed a crime like that. You want to know about the deepest reaches of my heart. But up till now, nobody has come to see me in person . . . Do you know what that means?
       He moves only his mouth—otherwise not a single muscle in his face shifts.
       —That I would talk to you. And probably eagerly. Loneliness can turn a person into a great talker. You seem like you can manage to sit with me as long as you’re on the other
side of this acrylic glass. But here’s what it feels like to me. Like we’re sitting face to face in a small enclosed room, having a chat. Try to imagine it. Having a conversation with a person who committed a bizarre crime, and at such close range, listening to everything that’s inside his mind . . . It would be as if I were putting myself inside of you.

       “. . . Inside me?”
       —That’s right. Whatever’s inside me, it would end up inside you. Whatever’s inside you would probably be activated by the process . . . As if I—a man who’s going to be executed—as if I could go on living inside of you. Are you okay with that?
       “I don’t know,” I say honestly. “But I’ve decided to write a book about you.”
       The room grows chilly again. The place must be cleaned daily; although the floor is worn, there isn’t a speck of dust on it.
       —Why? . . . Because you’re also a member of K2?
       The guard in uniform behind him is staring at me. The walls of the room are starting to get to me. It’s as though, little by little, the room is closing in around the
man. I draw in my breath. I am conscious of the acrylic glass in front of me. It’s all right, I murmur inside my head. This is surely an opening in the conversation. But the gap is small. We aren’t even alone. And there is a time limit.
       “. . .I’m just interested in K2.”
       —Interested . . . That could be dangerous.
       The guard in uniform stands up and informs us of the time. I let out my breath. The man is aware of my relief. He is watching me. He sees the state I am in.
       —Okay . . . You can come back again, he says in parting.
       The door behind him opens.
       —But I’m still not sure whether I’m going to tell you anything. I’m not too good at analyzing myself. So.
       As the man is led away, he continues.
       —Together, I guess you and I can think about things . . . I mean, like why I did what I did.

AS I LEAVE the prison, dusk is falling.
       I take in a breath. But there is no freshness to be had in the exhaust-choked air. When I realize that I am fumbling around in my pocket, I still my hand. In the distance I can see the lights of a convenience store. The man’s voice still echoes in my ears.
       I cross a wide road that is wet from rain and go inside the convenience store. I stare at the cigarette display for a moment, grab a pack, and set it along with a lighter on the counter by the register. When I touch the gloss of the plastic-wrapped package, my fingers feel a trace of warmth.
       The thin cashier takes the scanner and starts reading the barcodes with distracted movements. For some reason, I feel oppressed by the cashier’s gestures. I go outside and light a cigarette. Even though I quit smoking.
       My throat feels parched. This thirst is not likely to be quenched by water.
       I scan my surroundings futilely and start walking. My notebook and recorder are in my bag. They feel terribly heavy all of a sudden. I hadn’t been able to bring the recorder into the visiting rom.
       A hard rain begins to fall. The ground is already wet so this must have just been a temporary lull. People run to get out of the rain. They glance at me, standing there
getting wet, as they pass by. Like they see something bizarre that they don’t want to have anything to do with. I hold my hand over my head and start to trot. The fact is, it really doesn’t matter to me whether I get wet.
       Take another look at me, I want to say, but to whom I don’t know. I’m running like this, to get out of the rain. Just like you all.
       At the edge of my vision, I can see that the lights are on in a small bar. In the evening dusk, the lights seem tentative as they flicker off and then dimly back on again.
       Just as a shelter from the rain, I try to tell myself. I draw closer to the lights of the bar. I open the glass door, which has no trace of fingerprints yet, sit down at the counter, and order a whiskey on the rocks. Bartenders are wary of customers who arrive just as the bar is opening.
       “It’s raining.”
       “. . .What?”
       “Uh, the rain.”
       I am at a loss for words. He serves me the whiskey, and I bring the glass to my lips. I put the liquid on my tongue, and the moment I feel the expanse of sweet warmth, I gulp it down. It is as if my throat has no patience, and needs to hasten it down all at once. The man on the other side of the bar is watching me. He must be used to seeing the moment when someone who abstains decides to give up.
       “Are you . . . prepared?” The other man’s voice floats through my mind. Prepared? I attempt a smile. I bring the whiskey to my lips again. As if I’m a ravenous insect.
The warmth of the alcohol spreads to my brow and into my chest.
       I don’t need to be prepared. I have nothing left to protect.

Archive 1
Dear Sister,
        Prison is not as bad as you’d think. But it’s been quite a long time . . . I hope you’ll forgive me for writing another letter like this. I can’t help but get introspective in letters. I
don’t want to upset you all over again.
        But I wonder why that is—why do people feel the need to reveal things? I don’t know. Stuff about me has probably been wrongly reported out in the world. That doesn’t matter. Because I don’t even understand it myself—I mean, why I did such a thing. And why I’m going to be executed.
        I hope you can forgive your brother. Well, to be more precise, I hope you can cope with it. But here, there’s no chance of me coping with it all. I know I just wrote that prison isn’t so bad, but there are exceptions. Like the nights. When I can’t sleep, I get very frightened by this place. In solitary confinement in prison (those of us who commit incendiary crimes are thrown into solitary) the concrete walls and the iron doors that shut me off from the outside world seem only to heighten that feeling of terror. Every sound echoes coldly against the concrete and iron. It’s the heaviness and the indifference of such hardness that scares me, more than being locked up in here. I wonder if you can understand.
        Images of my own actions drift before my eyes. The heat of the moment, the sensation in the air—I experience everything as if I were reliving it. Down to the last trivial motions—even rubbing my eyes and swallowing my saliva. But in these visions, there are butterflies flying around me. I’m sure they’re not real. But it’s as though the butterflies are t...


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