2012 Global Reading Challenge, Japan, review, Translated

The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura

The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura
Translated by Satoko Izumo and Stephen Coates
Originally published in Japanese as Suri
Soho Press
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.
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