Nagasaki by Éric Faye

nagasaki Éric Faye

Nagasaki by Éric Faye

French fiction

Original title – Nagasaki

Translator – Emily Boyce

Source -Review Copy

Be warned I have had to give away a major part of the plot to review this fully .

Éric Faye is a French writer  he studied at Lille university in Journalism after that he worked for Reuters the news agency ,before in 1991 deciding to become a writer ,his early books deal with writer like Ismail Kadare and fictional  meetings with these writers .This book was his 22nd book and won the prestigious grand novel prize of the French academy .

That day , I was feeling a little under the weather , so I came home earlier than usual .It must have been before five when the tram dropped me in my road with a shopping bag over each arm .I rarely get back so early during the week , as I went inside I felt almost as if I was trespassing .That’s putting it a bit strongly, and yet …

Shimura feels something is odd on the second page .

Now when this book dropped on the doorstep ,I imagined it being a book about the second world war ,of course with the title Nagasaki .But no it is set in the modern city of Nagasaki ,what Éric Faye has done is taken a news story ,this one had passed me by at the time .Anyway the story follows a Japanese man Shimura  he  is an office worker ,so as is the case in Japan he spends long hours working .But at home he has started noticing things ,just little things a jug of juice seems to have less in and then other bits vanish .So he decides to mark bits and yes things are disappearing ,so the next step he does is to set a webcam up and whilst at work he checks this webcam placed in the kitchen at his house and sees an older women in his kitchen .Naturally he contacts the police and the women is arrest ,the second part of the book we find out how this women end up in his house ,her tale of woe and being left homeless and without any one is heart wrenching and the way she found this house saw he was out most of the day so they shared the space without knowing they were sharing the space  for actually a year before he gathered she was there .Both exit this event and situation changed .

My stowaway was fifty-eight ,I read ,two years older than me ,I had thought her a bit younger when she appeared on my screen .As for her surname , it was common as mine .She had been unemployed for a long time ; so long , in fact ,that she was no longer entitled to state benefits.

The woman is a sorry case really .

I found this reportage style fiction amazingly fresh , Éric Faye has taken a small news story and turned into a human story about the  people and the emotions behind the headlines .I was reminded of the Korean novel Please look after mother  ,both show how even in these ultra modern cities there are people who get left behind that fall through the cracks ,that just can’t cope with the modern world or as in the case get broken by the world they live in .It is one of those books that for days after you put it down you are thinking how did he miss someone living there for a year ? What drives someone to hide in a house ? For me this would be a great choice for a book club it short so every one should read it ,but it has so much to discuss after you read it and to wonder what you would have done in the situations .I would love to see this turned into a two person show with Shimura and the women .

Have you read a novel  based on a real life  news event ?


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Richard
    Apr 05, 2014 @ 12:10:43

    Listen, i only have so much space left in my house. if you keep it up with these excellent reviews, I’m going to need to go and buy a bigger house. Seriously, though, thanks for the review. I’m looking forward to reading this.


  2. Richard
    Apr 05, 2014 @ 12:30:32

    There was a very bad movie I watched as a kid, “Bad Ronald,” that had this sort of premise, but the title character actually lived in the walls of a house in a hideout. And he was a murderer. As I said, a very bad movie. However, I did find the idea of this person edged out, sort of thrown away and forgotten, to be far more compelling than the over-the-top story the movie was trying to convey. I’m hoping Faye has more work translated into English soon.


    • winstonsdad
      Apr 05, 2014 @ 12:32:22

      Me too his earlier books look very interesting if maybe rather to French for English tastes why it takes a big prize win to get a successful writer published bewilders me


  3. Caroline
    Apr 05, 2014 @ 13:22:03

    This sounds fantastic. What a creepy premise but then it could really happen.


  4. Brian Joseph
    Apr 05, 2014 @ 15:04:56

    The plot sounds intriguing. I agree with you Stu that the writing style is very impressive and different.

    Sadly I think that there are such people who slip through the cracks in both urban, suburban, and rural settings.


  5. BookerTalk
    Apr 06, 2014 @ 14:40:10

    This has gone straight to my must read list. what a great idea for a story.


  6. Trackback: Nagasaki by Éric Faye, tr. by Emily Boyce | JacquiWine's Journal

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April 2014


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