He quit his job six months ago to become a cab driver. At
twenty seven, he is aimless, oblivious to the world around
him. He is careless because defying death is one way to
tempt Fate. Sayuko, his sort-of-girlfriend, is not in such
a dark place; they are together because it just happened.
They get along, they go through the motions, until what?
THE BOY IN THE EARTH is an extremely difficult book to
review and it is grandiose. I have often pondered on the
questions the book raises: can one escape the
circumstances of one's birth, of one's upbringing? Were
some of us not meant to be born, not meant to live? Does
anything we do really affect our destiny? THE BOY IN THE
EARTH is they type of book I cherish. While it is
definitely not light reading, the author knows precisely
where to draw the line so it does not become depressing.
Told in the first person, the nameless cab driver from
Tokyo, Fuminori Nakamura has created a world unto itself
exposing the thoughts of a young man who is afraid to
live, not reckless enough to do away with himself, numb,
and wallowing in the greyness of a meaningless existence.
I understood why he was the way he was, and to my
astonishment, I did not want to hug him and make him feel
better, tell him that everything would be alright. I
listened to him, I wanted to listen to him, I needed to
follow him on his voyage into nothingness.
THE BOY IN THE EARTH is astoundingly well written, in a
simple and flowing way, where the author conveys every
feeling, every thought, every emotion, all the pain the
cab driver goes through. I felt privy to this young man's
soul. Then, suddenly, I started crying, and crying, and
crying. I cried for him, for those of us who are in the
same situation, for those of us we know who are on the
fringe of existence, tottering on the edge of the abyss. I
have rarely been moved so deeply, and it is no wonder that
Mr. Nakamura has won so many awards. THE BOY IN THE EARTH
will stand proudly alongside Raskolnikov, and The
Stranger. THE BOY IN THE EARTH is a book you read with
your heart, with your intellect, and with your soul, and
it is going on my keeper shelf forever.
A darkly melancholic tale that combines Scorseseís
Taxi Driver and Camusí The Fall set in
TokyoóNakamuraís Akutagawa Prize-winning novel, one of
Japanís most prestigious literary awards, is the here
translated into English for the first time and marks another
high-water mark in this important writerís career.
The Akutagawa Prize-Winning Novel
As an unnamed Tokyo taxi driver works a night shift, picking
up fares that offer him glimpses into the lives of ordinary
people, he canít escape his own nihilistic thoughts. Almost
without meaning to, he puts himself in harmís way; he canít
stop daydreaming of suicide, envisioning himself returning
to the earth in obsessive fantasies that soon become
terrifying blackout episodes. The truth is, his
longestranged father has tried to reach out to him,
triggering a cascade of traumatic memories. As the cab
driver wrestles with the truth about his past and the
history of violence in his childhood, he must also confront
his present, which is no less complicated or grim.
A precursor to Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist
The Thief, The Boy in the Earth is a closely
told character study that poses a difficult question: Are
some lives so damaged they are beyond redemption? Is every
child worth trying to save? A poignant and thought-provoking
tour de force by one of Japanís leading literary voices.