photo: Kenta Yoshizawa

Fuminori Nakamura

The most exciting thriller and crime writer of his generation in Japan whose fast-paced narratives hypnotically blend psychological suspense with literary fiction.
“I’m bursting with story ideas. It’s not a talent, it’s more like a disease.”
It is not surprising that Fuminori Nakamura has been dubbed the wunderkind of Japanese literature. He burst onto the Japanese literary scene with his critically acclaimed debut novel Ju (The Gun) in 2002 and within three years had won three of Japan’s major literary awards (the Shincho, Noma, and Akutagawa Prizes). He has gone on to be nominated for and win many more prizes. The Ōe Kenzaburō Prize, named after the Nobel Prize winner, for instance, which led two years later to the publication of his first novel in English, The Thief, by Soho Crime. He won his first international prize in 2014, the NoireCon’s David Goodis Award, named after the American crime fiction writer, who exemplified the noire fiction genre. Nakamura is known outside Japan mostly as a crime writer who pens broody, dark, existential thrillers. This reflects the narratives of his five novels that have been published in English, one, The Thief, was selected by the Wall Street Journal for its list of the 10 best books published in 2012.  He has published more than 13 novels in Japanese, three collections of short stories, and has also written serialized fiction for several leading Japanese newspapers.
“Nakamura, whose strategically withholding approach to filling in blanks invites conspiracy-minded readers to append whatever paranoid fantasies about government they happen to be dragging about on any given day,” The New York Times.
Latest
  • July 30, 2017
    In its review of Red Circle author Fuminori Nakamura’s Akutagawa-winning book, The Boy in the Earth, The Japan Times compares Nakamura to the Nobel Prize-winning author… Read more »
  • May 1, 2017
    The award-winning novel The Boy in the Earth, by Fuminori Nakamura, recently published in English, has been reviewed in The Wall Street Journal by the author… Read more »
  • April 21, 2017
    Fuminori Nakamura, the multi-award winning Japanese crime writer, is featured in Literary Hub. In the article Nakamura writes about his childhood and the impact it… Read more »
  • Fuminori Nakamura
Fuminori Nakamura was born in 1977 in Aichi, Japan’s fourth largest prefecture, whose capital city is Nagoya. Nakamura started reading seriously and widely at high school, as an escape from student life. When he read the classics written, for instance, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881), Franz Kafka (1883-1924), Osamu Dazai (1909-1948), Albert Camus (1913-1960), Kobo Abe (1924-1993), Yukio Mishima (1925-1970) and Kenzaburō Ōe, the only living and one of only two Japanese winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Nakamura wanted nothing more than to follow their example and become a writer. So after graduating from Fukushima University, a well-regarded national university, in 2000, where he studied sociology, he moved to Tokyo to pursue his long held dream.
The Gun, published in English by Soho Crime, 2016.
He initially supported himself by doing various part-time jobs before making his publishing debut two years later with his critically acclaimed novella Ju (The Gun), which won the Shinchō Literary Prize for New Writers.

Two years later his second novel Shakō (Shield Me from the Light) won the Noma Literary Prize. In 2005, he won the Akutagawa Prize for his novella Tsuchi no naka no kodomo (Child in the Ground), which was his third piece of writing to be nominated for the prestigious prize. He soon picked up the moniker “the wunderkind” of Japanese literature, as he was just 27 when he won the prize.

In 2010, his novel Suri (The Thief) won the Kenzaburō Ōe 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 his first novel to be translated into English and was published by Soho Crime, based in New York, in 2012.

  • Nakamura gained internatuional attention rapidly, winning his first literary prize outside Japan in 2014

International recognition came quickly. The Thief was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was and selected by the Wall Street Journal as one of the 10 best books published in 2012. Nakamura won his first non-Japanese literary award, two years later in 2014: the NoirCon’s David L. Goodis Award, named after the American crime fiction writer, who epitomized the noir fiction genre.

Soho Crime followed up on his successful first book in English by publishing; Evil And The Mask in 2013 (Aku to kamen no rūru), a tale of retribution targeting a boy raised to be “a cancer on the world” and Last Winter, We Parted (Kyonen no fuyu, kimi to wakare) in 2014, in which an aspiring writer interviews a convict on death row for murder and subsequently discovers a tangled group of individuals all connected through a craftsman of full-sized silicon sex dolls. The book follows a long Japanese tradition of using dolls as a narrative device to question our concept of reality and individuality.

Japanese film poster for Hee (Fire) released in 2016.


His novels, often described as edgy and innovative, have been published widely in translation including in French, German, Chinese, Spanish and English. His work has also been successfully adapted for film and television. The short story Hee (Fire), for example, was adapted and released as a film in 2016. It was directed by and stared Kaori Momi, who has won more awards than any other Japanese actress. The film was previewed at the Berlin Film Festival.

Nakamura is known outside Japan mostly as a crime writer who pens edgy, dark, existential thrillers. This reflects the narratives of his five novels that have been published in English. He and his work, as is the case with many new writers, building a reputation rapidly, are in fact much harder to pigeonhole. He is on record saying: “as for how I describe what I write about, my novels are about the depths of the human heart – specifically, its darker side”. He also says he doesn’t mind how his books are labeled or defined – they have been referred to as literary fiction, mystery and crime – if people are reading them he is happy no matter their definition.

His favorite author is Dostoyevsky, and he still has great respect for the authors he read as a high school student, when he was growing up in Aichi Prefecture. He has published more than 13 novels in Japanese, three collections of short stories, and written serialized fiction for several leading Japanese national newspapers. He currently lives in Tokyo with his wife.
  • Fuminori Nakamura
Fuminori Nakamura was born in 1977 in Aichi, Japan, whose capital city Nagoya is known for its medieval castle built between 1610-1619. Japan’s three best known samurai warlords Oda Nobunaga, Hideyoshi Toyotomi and Ieyasu Tokugawa, who collaborated and competed sometimes brutally in their epic struggle to unify Japan, were based there.

He has been an avid reader since he was at high school and before he went to Fukushima University, one of Japan’s prestigious national universities founded in 1946, where he studied sociology. He found life at high school hard and solitary.

His only escape was reading. One book that resonated, that he particularly enjoyed at the time, was No Longer Human (Ningen shikkaku), by Osamu Dazai (1909-1948), an author who seems to fascinate many of Japan’s successful contemporary writers. He found echoes of himself in the story of a reclusive young man who feels “disqualified from being human” but finds solace in literature. After graduating university he moved to Tokyo and took several part-time jobs to support himself until he made his highly successful literary debut in 2002.
  • Japanese Editions
  • Watashi no shoumetsu (My Annihilation), 2016
    Prize-winningPrix des Deux Magots Bunkamura Prize
  • Kyonen no fuyu, kimi to wakare (Last Winter, We Parted), 2013
  • Kyonen no fuyu, kimi to wakare (Last Winter, We Parted), 2016[Bunko]
  • Meikyu (The Labyrinth), 2012
  • Meikyu (The Labyrinth), 2015[Bunko]
  • Okoku (The Kingdom), 2011
  • Okoku (The Kingdom), 2015[Bunko]
  • Aku to kamen no ruuru (Evil and the Mask), 2010
  • Aku to kamen no ruuru (Evil and the Mask), 2013[Bunko]
  • Suri[suri] (The Thief), 2009
    Prize-winningŌoe Kenzaburō Prize
  • Suri[suri] (The Thief), 2013[Bunko]
  • Sekai no hate (The Edge of the World), 2009
  • Sekai no hate (The Edge of the World), 2013[Bunko]
  • Nani mo ka mo yuutsuna yoru ni (In the Night I feel Everything Melancholy), 2009
  • Nani mo ka mo yuutsuna yoru ni (In the Night I feel Everything Melancholy), 2012[Bunko]
  • Saigo no inochi (Final Life), 2007
    Adapted for Film/TV
  • Saigo no inochi (Final Life), 2010[Bunko]
  • Tsuchi no naka no kodomo (The Boy in the Earth), 2005
    Prize-winningAkutagawa Ryūnosuke Prize
  • Tsuchi no naka no kodomo (The Boy in the Earth), 2007[Bunko]
  • Akui no shuki (A Note of Malice), 2005
  • Akui no shuki (A Note of Malice), 2013[Bunko]
  • Shakou (Shield Me from the Light), 2004
    Prize-winningNoma Bungei Shinjin Prize
  • Shakou (Shield Me from the Light), 2010[Bunko]
  • Juu(The Gun), 2003
    Prize-winningShinchō Shinjin Prize
  • Juu(The Gun), 2006[Bunko]
  • Juu(The Gun), 2012[Bunko]
  • Anata ga kieta yoru ni (In the Night You Disappeared), 2015
  • Kyoudan X (The Religious Community X), 2014
  • Ei (A), 2014
  • Madoi no mori: 50 sutooriizu (The Woods of a Delusion: 50 Stories), 2012
  • Sakka no koufuku (A Writer’s Mouthful), 2011Multi-Author Title [Bunko]
  • Kitsuenshitsu (The Smoking Room), 2007Multi-Author Title
  • Dokusha toiu taiken (The Experience of Reading), 2007Multi-Author Title [Bunko]
  • Sora wo tobu koi (The Love in the Air), 2006Multi-Author Title [Bunko]
  • +
  • English Editions
  • The Thief (original title: Suri), 2012
  • The Thief, 2013[Paperback]
  • Evil and the Mask, 2013
  • Evil and the Mask, 2014[Paperback]
  • Last Winter, We Parted, 2014
  • Last Winter, We Parted, 2015[Paperback]
  • The Gun, 2016
  • The Gun, 2017[Paperback]
  • The Kingdom, 2016
  • The Kingdom, 2017[Paperback]
  • The Boy in the Earth, 2017
  • Other Editions
  • Tokyo noir, 2015Italian Edition [Paperback]
  • Pickpocket, 2013French Edition [Paperback]
  • L'hiver dernier, je me suis séparé de toi, 2013French Edition [Kindle]
  • Revolver, 2015French Edition [Paperback]
  • Der Dieb, 2015German Edition
  • Der Dieb, 2017German Edition [Paperback]
The titles above are a selection of Fuminori Nakamura's works. A full list of his publications can be downloaded here as a PDF file.
  • Prize-winningPrize-winning
  • Prize nomineePrize nominee
  • Adapted for Film/TVAdapted for Film/TV
  • In Japan there are two major book formats tanko-bon (Tanko) and bunko-bon (Bunko). See Factbook for explanation. The smaller images above are of the Bunko Editions, small-format paperbacks.
  • News & Media
The Best New MysteriesThe Wall Street Journal,  April 2017
Crime writer brings Tokyo noir to the worldThe Japan Times, June 2013
  • Awards
2016  – Prix des Deux Magots Bunkamura for My Annihilation (私の消滅/Watashi no shoumetsu)

2014 – David L. Goodis Award

2010 – Kenzaburo Oe Prize for The Thief (掏摸/Suri

2005 – Akutagawa Prize for The Boy in the Earth (土の中の子/Tsuchi no naka no kodomo)

2004 – Noma Literary Prize for Shade (遮光/Shakou)

2002 – Shinchō Literary Prize for New Writers for The Gun (銃/Juu)
  • Testimonials
“One of the most interesting, Japanese crime novelists at work today,” US Today.

“In an era when deep layers of poverty, newly revealed, are raising great social concern, this author understands that fresh perspectives can and must be brought to bear,” Kenzaburō Ōe.

“Nakamura, whose strategically withholding approach to filling in blanks invites conspiracy-minded readers to append whatever paranoid fantasies about government they happen to be dragging about on any given day,” The New York Times.

“Fuminori Nakamura has delivered an edgy Crime Drama/Psychological Thriller filled with enough surprises to keep one guessing. The Pulp-Noir feel, coupled with the psychological extremes visited through the character’s flaws, offers an intense view into the lower depths of the human psyche,“ Reader Comment on Goodreads.com about Last Winter We Parted.

“This is a very good, maybe incredible novel that somehow manages to stay compelling for 350 pages despite the fact that mostly the characters just sit in the dark and hate life,” Reader Comment on Goodreads.com about Evil and the Mask.
Coming soon.
Fuminori Nakamura Posted by Richard Nathan