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‘Cult X’, Fuminori Nakamura’s latest novel to be published in English, making an impact with international reviewers

Cover of English language Edition of Cult X by Fuminori Nakamura. Translated by Kalau Almony and published in May 2018 by Soho Crime
The much anticipated, Cult X, Fuminori Nakamura’s seventh novel in English translation published last month, is making a major impact internationally after causing a sensation in Japan. 

As was the case in Japan, this gripping novel is being widely reviewed and acclaimed with Nakamura being compared to some of the world’s greatest writers. 

The Wall Street Journal writes that the novel “raises the literary stakes to literally cosmic proportions” and compares the novel to Dostoevsky stating that it is a “saga of good and evil on a Dostoevskian scale”, while the Los Angles Times writes: “Nakamura’s impassioned writing is part of a continuum that stretches from Dostoevsky to Camus to Oe.” 

Reviewers in Japan made similar comments when Cult X was published in 2014 as Kyodan X by Shueisha, where it sold in the hundreds of thousands in hardback (Tanko-bon). The novel was compared to both Sartre and Dostoevsky in the Nikkei, Da Vinci News and other publications.

Toshio Takahashi, a professor of literature at Waseda University, a private university in Tokyo where many of Japan’s most famous writers such as Edogawa Ranpo (1894-1965), Haruki Murakami and Yoko Ogawa were students, wrote in his review that despite the book having echoes of Sartre about it, the work was completely original taking literary fiction in a brand new direction.
Japanese promotional materials for Kyodan X (Cult X). Image:
The sensational and devastating coordinated gas attacks on the Tokyo subway by the Japanese religious cult, Aum Shinrikyo (Aum Supreme Truth), that shocked Tokyo, Japan and the world in the 1990s has become a topic that many Japanese authors continue to explore and draw on.

Some of these books are hard and disturbing reads and Nakamura’s is no exception. It blends philosophy, religion, and sex in an information packed 512-pages. One reader commenting on Amazon wrote: “if you are attracted by an exploration of the most extreme of extreme groups imagined by a talented writer, this book could be a winner for you”. 

Cult X, translated by Kalau Almony was published by Soho Crime in May. Links to reviews and a synopsis of the book can be found below.

English Language Reviews:

Los Angeles Times
The Wall Street Journal
The Japan Times
Crime Fiction Lover
Publishers Weekly
Complete Review 

Book Synopsis:

When Toru Narazaki’s girlfriend, Ryoko Tachibana, disappears, he tries to track her down, despite the warnings of the private detective he’s hired to find her. Ryoko’s past is shrouded in mystery, but the one concrete clue to her whereabouts is a previous address in the heart of Tokyo.

She lived in a compound with a group that seems to be a cult led by a charismatic guru with a revisionist Buddhist scheme of life, death, and society. Narazaki plunges into the secretive world of the cult, ready to expose himself to any of the guru’s brainwashing tactics if it means he can learn the truth about Ryoko. But the cult isn’t what he expected, and he has no idea of the bubbling violence he is stepping into. 

Inspired by the 1995 sarin gas terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway, Cult X is an exploration of what draws individuals into extremism. It is a tour de force that captures the connections between astrophysics, neuroscience, and religion; an invective against predatory corporate consumerism and exploitative geopolitics; and a love story about compassion in the face of nihilism.

  • RedCircle
    About Red Circle:
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    • Fuminori Nakamura
      About Fuminori Nakamura:
      Fuminori Nakamura is the most exciting thriller and crime writer of his generation in Japan whose fast-paced narratives hypnotically blend psychological suspense with literary fiction. Nakamura, who has won numerous literary prizes in Japan, won his first non-Japanese literary award in 2014, the NoirCon’s David L. Goodis Award, named after the American crime fiction writer, who epitomized the noir fiction genre.