The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura
Translated by Satoko Izumo and Stephen Coates
Originally published in Japanese as Suri
Publication date: March 20, 2012
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
The Thief is a brief tale told by an unnamed thief, who primarily is a pickpocket in the crowded subways and streets of Tokyo but who also has done work for various gangs. The story begins in mid-crime, and Nakamura gets into the thoughts and sensations of this unnamed man who, he admits, does not have a place insociety. He currently works alone, but in the past he had a partner who he fears is dead. During the course of our following the thief, he becomes a mentor to a young boy who is not such a successful shoplifter. He comes to care for him, especially as he fears his days are numbered after he’s enlisted by a criminal gang that threatens to kill him if he doesn’t complete his assigned tasks.
This is book is a crime confessional. It’s a story that humanizes the man whose entire livelihood depends on being unnoticeable and unnoticed. This is also a story about fear of the yakuza. I really get a feel for the insanely crowded subways in Tokyo in this story. The fact that the main female characters are a prostitute and the thief’s unstable ex-mistress is a bit grating since the characters are pretty clichéd. In any case, it’s a quick read into the mind of a pickpocket.
This book was also reviewed by International Noir Fiction.
I read this as part of the 2012 Global Reading Challenge.