Publication Date: August 2004
List Price: $14.95*
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Winner of the Japan Mystery Writers Award, Naoko is a black comedy of hidden minds and lives. Navigating the interstices between the real and the unreal with perfect plot twists, this page-turner is also a critique of gender relations by a male Japanese writer, one of their best-sellng.
An everyman, Heisuke works hard at a factory job to provide for his wife, Naoko, and young daughter, Monami. He takes pleasure from the small things, like breakfast with both of them after a night shift. His placid life is rocked when, looking up from his microwave dinner one evening, he realizes the TV news that he wasn't paying attention to is reporting a catastrophic bus accident and the names of his loved ones.
When Monami finally wakes from a coma, she seems to think she's Naoko, who has died protecting her daughter. More disturbingly, the girl knows things only Naoko could know. The family life that resumes between the modest man and a companion who looks like his daughter bu seems like his dead wife is ticklish-funny until it begins hurtling toward a soul-shattering end.
In addition to winning Japan's top mystery prize, Naoko inspired a blockbuster movie. Read this work, a match for the later Bunuel, to find out why Higashino is considered the most ambitious and versatile mystery hand at work in Japan.