Winner of the Japan Mystery Writers Award, Naoko is a black comedy of hidden minds and lives. Navigating the interstices between the real and the unreal with perfect plot twists, this page-turner is also a critique of gender relations by a male Japanese writer, one of their best-sellng.
An everyman, Heisuke works hard at a factory job to provide for his wife, Naoko, and young daughter, Monami. He takes pleasure from the small things, like breakfast with both of them after a night shift. His placid life is rocked when, looking up from his microwave dinner one evening, he realizes the TV news that he wasn’t paying attention to is reporting a catastrophic bus accident and the names of his loved ones.
When Monami finally wakes from a coma, she seems to think she’s Naoko, who has died protecting her daughter. More disturbingly, the girl knows things only Naoko could know. The family life that resumes between the modest man and a companion who looks like his daughter bu seems like his dead wife is ticklish-funny until it begins hurtling toward a soul-shattering end.
In addition to winning Japan’s top mystery prize, Naoko inspired a blockbuster movie. Read this work, a match for the later Bunuel, to find out why Higashino is considered the most ambitious and versatile mystery hand at work in Japan.
“Higashino is a deft conjurer of human relationships, and while this is first and foremost a tale of grief— thankfully, no one calls Naoko a story of redemption—he infuses it with spasms of sharp humor.” —East Bay Express
“The novel flips suddenly…in wonderfully pleasing fashion, from pathetic tragedy to social satire and domestic comedy with themes of love, work, sex and education. How could we have ever imagined, without the help of a novel like this, that Japanese life could be so fraught with suffering and so entertaining all at once?” —Alan Cheuse for the Dallas Morning News
“It’s the realness of the characters ..that makes the fantastic story more believable and harder to put down.” – Mecha Mecha Media Blogspot