As an unnamed Tokyo taxi driver works a night shift, picking up fares that offer him glimpses into the lives of ordinary people, he can’t escape his own nihilistic thoughts. Almost without meaning to, he puts himself in harm’s way; he can’t stop daydreaming of suicide, envisioning himself returning to the earth in obsessive fantasie...
As an unnamed Tokyo taxi driver works a night shift, picking up fares that offer him glimpses into the lives of ordinary people, he can’t escape his own nihilistic thoughts. Almost without meaning to, he puts himself in harm’s way; he can’t stop daydreaming of suicide, envisioning himself returning to the earth in obsessive fantasies that soon become terrifying blackout episodes. The truth is, his long-estranged father has tried to reach out to him, triggering a cascade of traumatic memories. As the cab driver wrestles with the grim truth about his past, the history of violence in his childhood among foster families and orphanages, he also confronts his real-world responsibilities—his troubled girlfriend’s blossoming alcoholism and unhappiness over her own sad past.
The Boy in the Earth is a closely told character study that poses a difficult question: Are some lives so damaged they are beyond redemption? Is every child worth trying to save—or are some too ruined by their abusers to ever function in society? A poignant and thought-provoking tour de force.
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“This slim, icy, outstanding thriller, reminiscent of Muriel Spark and Patricia Highsmith, should establish Fuminori Nakamura as one of the most interesting Japanese crime novelists at work today.”
“Crime ﬁction that pushes past the bounds of genre, occupying its own nightmare realm.”
—Los Angeles Times
“Told in an intimate first-person narrative, Nakamura’s novel, translated for the first time into English, considers the long-term repercussions of abuse and a life on the fringe of society... this well-written sparse character study in psychological obsession will appeal to readers who like their fiction dark.”
“Although many orders of magnitude darker, Nakamura may be the spiritual heir to Kenzaburō Ōe. This is existential literature at its compelling and nauseating best... His work isn’t merely noir as titillation; it’s the hideous truth below the surface, and he is one of the most vital writers at work today in Japan.”