Just read Tokyo Year Zero by David Peace, a crime novel set in post WW2 Japan. Perhaps crime is the wrong term, it seems a bit “modern lit” poetic to me, in a way that may have been a nod to Japanese stylized writing, but for me it came off as repetitive and solipsistic.

A series of murder/rapes are committed in Tokyo, and the subsequent investigation sets the frame for the exploration of Japan at the time. The factual information on how life was in Japan post war was fascinating; it was a difficult and confusing time which is rarely explored, at least in Western culture. The crime story itself felt a bit like a long wandering episode of SVU, with the rape victims piling ever higher.

Okay, stop if you hate spoilers.

The biggest problem with the book is the “big reveal.” The whole way through the author reminds us that in post war Japan “no one is who they say they are,” so we know the main detective is most likely not who he claims to be, but to play the, “he’s insane and the whole book was through his perspective so nothing’s really true,” card (phew)… it’s like JR’s shooting being a dream… it’s like in high school math, when they teach imaginary numbers, and tell you everything you ever learned might not be true…

Look, it’s not a bad book, and I’m sure for some it’s even a good book, but I found myself thinking about chores I had to do at times; maybe not a big recommendation from me. I think I’ll cleanse my palate with an Agatha Christie.

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