Sep 27, 2012
Book Review: The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura
Title: The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura, translated from the Japanese by Satoko Izumo and Stephen Coates
Published March 20, 2012; Soho Crime
I was pleasantly surprised by this award winning novel by the young Japanese writer Fuminori Nakamura. He won Japan's largest prize, the 2009 Oe Prize, for this book and I can see why.
Not nearly as noir as I was expecting, the book shows the flaws and the humanity of this young man, a Tokyo pickpocket so skilled that he can unbutton a man's coat, take a wallet from the inside pocket, and rebutton the coat without being noticed or caught. Working in tandem with two others, he can even remove the cash and return the wallet to the unsuspecting victim's pocket in the flash of an eye.
The Thief targets only wealthy, well dressed Tokyo businessmen, as they walk along the street or ride on the subway. This is until he gets involved in more serious pickpocketing for gang members who have a political agenda. The noir ending I was expecting didn't happen, and there is hope for the Thief who risks his life to protect a young boy, a budding pickpocket, and put him on a path different from his own.
This was an easy read, only 211 pages. The dialogue and plot lines are both excellent.
Nakamura's first book, The Gun, has also won an award.
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