“Although many orders of magnitude darker, Nakamura may be the spiritual heir to Kenzaburo Oe,” writes Iain Moloney in his review of Tsuchi no naka no kodomo, The Boy in the Earth, which has recently been published in English translation by Soho Press.
“This is existential literature at its compelling and nauseating best.” Nakamura, according to the review, “doesn’t just look fearlessly into the void at the heart of human existence — he crawls inside and starts digging.”
Oe, like many, is a fan of Nakamura’s fiction. In 2010, Nakamura’s novel Suri (The Thief) won the Kenzaburo Oe Prize, named after the Nobel Prize winner who personally selects the winning title.
There is no cash prize for the winning author, but the winning title is translated into English, French and German. The Thief thus became Nakamura’s first novel to be translated into English and was published by Soho Crime, based in New York, in 2012.
Nakamura’s firth book, The Boy in the Earth, translated by Alison Markin Powell, is 160 pages long and is rapidly gaining the attention of reviewers and readers online.
One reader, for example, commented on Goodreads.com: “Brilliant author, brilliant book. Read it!” and another on Amazon: “Nakamura truly has a way with words and has created a haunting novel that stayed with me well after I read the last page.”
The Boy in the Earth has been reviewed widely in many leading publications, adding to Nakamura’s growing reputation outside Japan. The Wall Street Journal, for example, described this book as “absorbing . . . Just what abuse the narrator suffered as a youth is one of the puzzles to be solved (in horrific detail).”
An unnamed taxi driver in Tokyo has experienced a rupture from his everyday life. He cannot stop daydreaming of suicide, envisioning himself returning to the earth in what soon become terrifying blackout episodes. His live-in girlfriend, Sayuko, is in a similarly bad phase, surrendering to alcoholism to escape the memory of her miscarriage. He meets with the director of the orphanage where he once lived, and must confront awful memories of his past and an abusive family before determining what to do next.
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