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Strangers

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It sounds like the starting point for a dark, terrifying descent into mania and doubt, or else a paranoiac thriller. However, Taichi Yamada takes a more subdued approach. The protagonist, Harada, has a quiet life: recently divorced, he rarely socialises and lives in a near-empty building. A secondary plot strand involves his burgeoning relationship with a neighbour, Kei, who shies away from the world because of the scars caused by a severe burn across her chest. Harada's encounters with his parents are disconcertingly ordinary. A note of horror creeps in when others notice Harada physically declining, though he is unable to see the change. The narrator Hideo Harada, a 47-year-old TV scriptwriter, meets a couple who bear an eerie resemblance to his dead parents, and forms a friendship with them, visiting them often. As his health declines, he comes to realise that they are ghosts who are sapping his life-force. The 2023 English-language film All of Us Strangers, directed by Andrew Haigh, is also based on the novel. I liked this book. Again, it was somewhat stilted and formalized in translation but that's easily overcome. The dialogue sometimes was kind of silly, with little annoying things like money being called "dough" etc which seems out of context in the story. Kind of simplistic in tone, although it does delve into the whole search of self by Harada-san and why he feels like he must continue to see his "parents." Harada is a very tragic figure to begin with, and by the end of the book I was really pulling for him. When a book does that for me, then it's a good read.

Romanul mai are si un ultim twist care mi-a placut foarte mult si care are legatura cu femeia cu cicatrice pe piept. Merita citit pana la capat pentru acest detaliu horror-supranatural care o sa va surprinda. Taichi Yamada is one of the most famous and highly respected writers in Japan. Winner of many awards for literary excellence from private organizations and from the Japanese government, he is best known for his scripts for TV dramas, but has also written many novels and plays. He was born in Tokyo in 1934, and graduated from Waseda University in 1958 after having studied japanese Language and Literature in the Department of Education. That same year he entered the Shochiku Film Company and began to work at the Ofuna Studio Production Department. In 1965, he left Shochiku and established himself as an independent scenario writer. David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas) said "highly recommended, a cerebral haunting ghost story" & Bret Easton Ellis describes this as "an eerie ghost story written with hypnotic clarity, intelligent & haunting with passages of acute psychological insight into the relationship between children & parents". The Japanese original won the 1987 Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize for best human-interest novel. The English translation was one of sixteen works long-listed for the 2006 Foreign Fiction prize awarded by The Independent. How can that be possible he wonders? There is only one possible explanation he concludes – they are an hallucination caused by his solitude and grief. He thought he’d buried his grief for his parents but seeing them makes him realise that “Somewhere deep inside of me I had been yearning desperately for the warm embrace of parental love.

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How to get out of this? He loves spending time with his parents but what if they are killing him? But is it the parents? Cue unmasking of a succubus and rescue by friend cum ex wifes boyfriend

Yamada's manner of stripped-down storytelling leaves much to the reader, but he manages tempo very subtly, as Harada moves between fear and elation, and his reacquaintance with his parents is deepened in nicely pitched snatches of dialogue and imagery: "I could see the mannerisms of a dashing artisan in the way my father swung his arms and strutted along, and I found it quite endearing." It somehow seems entirely natural then for Hideo to take up the man's invitation and go for a beer at the man's home. Ijintachi to no natsu has also been translated into German as Sommer mit Fremden, French as Présences d'un été and Swedish as Främlingar (2009). Hideo is amazed and confused, but he's also drawn to the couple, and they treat him -- despite the fact that he's ten or more years older than they are -- like their son. Kei isn’t convinced his trips to Asakusa are good for his health. She sees Heido changing day-by-day, becoming hollow-eyed, aged and emaciated. She’s even more worried because Heido himself cannot see these changes – when he looks at himself in the mirror he looks as healthy as ever. Can Kei save him from the ghosts of his past? Or is his desire to make up for the lost years of his relationship with his parents too strong to resist?Strangely enough, this book began tepidly. This is the story of lonely TV writer, Hideo who is approaching middle age. Set in Japan during the 1980s outside of Kyoto, Hideo lives a mundane life of where everything seems to be all laid out for him. Estranged from his son, Shigeki, at odds with his ex-wife Ayako for dating who’s now engaged to his occasional friend and co-worker, Mamiya, Hideo spends his time in solitude, concealing his feelings—whether it be anger, or confusion. Hideo doesn't quite know what to make of the uncanny resemblance -- and he's even more confused when he finds the man's wife to be the spitting image of his mother, looking just as she had when she died at age 35. Meanwhile he also become more involved with the woman in his building, Kei, with a real relationship developing between them. The cleverness of Yamada's novel is in its final twist, when it turns out that Hideo's choice leaves him still ensnared in a dangerous position.

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