The new paperback by Shiraishi, who is known for penning deeply thoughtful books about love, life and the human condition was serialised in several Asahi Shimbun Group magazines over the last few years and was first published in hardback in 2019 after receiving excellent feedback.
Shiraishi’s story about an author who wakes up one day shocked to discover that the heel of his right foot is transparent plastic, was initially published in instalments over 53 issues in Shukan Asahi, a highly regarded weekly magazine.
The esoteric and riveting tale left readers wanting more leading to a sequel, which was also initially published in instalments; this time in another Asahi Group magazine, Shosetsu Tripper.
The final instalment of the sequel was published at the end of 2018 concluding Shiraishi’s thought-provoking psychological suspense, The Plastic Prayer, a deeply philosophical narrative designed to be read over and over about a celebrated author Nobumasa Himeno who who turned to drink when his wife Koyuki was on edge of death.
Himeno’s body starts changing with one part after another morphing into plastic. These sudden mysterious changes force him to question what is real and what is not, and question why his wife died and if he is being punished for her death.
The author and his publisher challenge readers in their promotional materials to join Himeno on his quest to discover his fate, separate memory from reality, and understand what molds our realities in a non-stop complex gripping narrative, designed to confuse, that forces you to keep reading. One reader describes the experience as similar to being pulled into a confusing maze of mysterious phenomena and memory that you can’t put down.
The book is unusually long, the longest ever by Shiraishi, at 1,400 pages of Japanese manuscript paper, genkoyoshi. The paperback, a mesmerising monster of a tale at a total of 800 pages with its intricate and consciously perplexing narrative, unlike the hardback which was published as a single volume, is being published in two parts, both on the 7 February, in two volumes of 392 and 408 pages respectively.
One of the early reviews online ponders how Shiraishi manages to make it possible to feel such empathy for a fantasy individual whose body is being plasticised, and another reader commenting on Twitter puts it much more simply describing The Plastic Prayer as: “another masterpiece from Kazufumi Shiraishi”.
Shiraishi has expressed doubt if readers will be able to fully grasp his tale and its nuances in one reading, but alongside his publisher provocatively invites his many dedicated readers to take-up the challenge, put their minds to the task and surprise him, and perhaps also themselves, as they enter his intoxicating philosophical hall of mirrors.
- About Red Circle:Red Circle Authors Limited is a specialist publishing and communications company that conducts bespoke projects on behalf of a carefully selected and curated group of leading Japanese authors. Red Circle showcases Japan’s best creative writing. For more information on Red Circle, Japanese literature, and Red Circle authors please visit: www.redcircleauthors.com.