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‘The Fugitive’ a new full-length novel by Fuminori Nakamura released in Japan

Cover of The Fugitive, 逃亡者 (Tobosha) by Fuminori Nakamura published by Gentosha 16 April 2020.
Last week Gentosha, a Japanese publisher based in Tokyo’s trendy Shibuya district best known for its literary magazines and manga, published a tanko-bon, hardback, edition of The Fugitive (Tobosha) by the award-winning author Fuminori Nakamura. 

Nakamura, who is known for his fast-paced narratives that hypnotically blend psychological suspense with literary fiction, is following, with this latest work, in the footsteps of some of Japan’s most talented and highly regarded writers such as Shusaku Endo (1923-1966) and Hisashi Inoue (1934-2010) in placing Christianity at the centre of a narrative. 

Roof of house in a small Christian hamlet near Nagasaki. Photo: Red Circle Authors Limited.
The protagonist in Nakamura’s 500-page The Fugitive is a descendent of one of Japan’s hidden Christians, who were persecuted and sometimes killed for their beliefs in Japan during the nation’s so-called Christian Century between 1550-1650, which started with the arrival of Jesuits missionaries. 

In this mesmerising tale of faith, war and love, Nakamura takes the reader on a gripping journey. One that spans the periods when Japanese Christians lived in hiding in fear for their lives, through to the Second World War and the present day. 

Ever since the arrival of Christianity in Japan in 1540s the narratives of Christ and Christianity have had a significant direct and indirect impact on Japanese literature and on some of Japan’s most creative and thoughtful authors.

Nakamura’s new addition to this canon of Japanese Christian Literature is expected to give this trend even more momentum. 

The Fugitive was initially serialised in several leading newspapers including the Tokyo Shimbun, and the Hokkaido Shimbun, delighting and captivating readers across Japan with regular instalments of this well researched and beautifully written tale of flight. 

In Japan, serialised novels have a long history and now play a very important and prestigious part in the professional lives of many leading Japanese authors; especially serialisations in newspapers such as the Tokyo Shimbun, and the Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s most influential, which is currently publishing another serialised novel, The Card Shark (Kaado-shi) by Nakamura. 

Nakamura visited Nagasaki, the Endo Shusaku Literary Museaum and other famous Japanese Christian sights to research The Fugitive, which his Japanese publisher describes as the “definitive Fuminori Nakamura” novel. 

Promotional banner advertisement promoting Fuminori Nakamura’s novel The Fugitive, 逃亡者 (Tobosha). Image: Gentosha.
The publication of The Fugitive in book format for the first time this month will bring this sensitively written tale of escape, promises, displacement and determination to a wider audience and allow readers who missed some of the newspaper instalments to complete the narrative journey, others to enjoy it for the first time and some to re-read it as Japan enters a new period of lockdown where many may be hidden or excluded from society again like Japan’s early Christians. 

Gentosha has very successfully published other works by Nakamura including Last Winter We Parted, which inspired the Los Angeles Times to write, when an English language translation edition was published: “it offers not one but a series of overlapping sensibilities, telling us not only what took place but also why. Nakamura’s purpose is less investigative than psychological”.

Gentosha, which has high expectations for Nakamura’s latest book, as well as many Japanese critics, expect The Fugitive to also leave a deep and lasting psychological imprint.

Ohno Catholic Church, designed and built by the French priest Marc Marie de Rotz in 1893, in Shimo-Ohno-Machi, Nagasaki. Photo: Red Circle Authors Limited.
  • RedCircle
    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:
    • 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.