The Thief

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The Thief

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for The Thief

Los Angeles Times Book Prize 2013 Finalist
A Wall Street Journal Best Fiction of 2012 Selection
A World Literature Today Notable Translation

An Amazon Best Mystery/Thriller of the Month
Winner of Japan’s Prestigious Ōe Prize

The Thief brings to mind Highsmith, Mishima and Doestoevsky . . . A chilling existential thriller leaving readers in doubt without making them feel in any way cheated.”
 —Wall Street Journal, Best Book of the Year Selection
 
“I was deeply impressed with The Thief. It is fresh. It is sure to enjoy a great deal of attention.”
—Kenzaburō Ōe, Nobel Prize-winning author of A Personal Matter
 
“Fascinating. I want to write something like The Thief someday myself.”
—Natsuo Kirino, bestselling author of Edgar-nominated Out and Grotesque
 
“An intelligent, compelling and surprisingly moving tale, and highly recommended.”
The Guardian
 
“Nakamura's prose is cut-to-the-bone lean, but it moves across the page with a seductive, even voluptuous agility. I defy you not to finish the book in a single sitting.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch 

“Fuminori Nakamura’s Tokyo is not a city of bright lights, bleeding-edge technology, and harajuku girls with bubblegum pink hair. In Nakamura’s Japan, the lights are broken, the knives are bloodier than the tech, and the harajuku girls are aging single mothers turning tricks in cheap tracksuits. His grasp of the seamy underbelly of the city is why Nakamura is one of the most award-winning young guns of Japanese hardboiled detective writing.”
Daily Beast

“It's simple and utterly compelling - great beach reading for the deeply cynical. If you crossed Michael Connelly and Camus and translated it from Japanese.”
Grantland

“Surreal.”
Sacramento Bee
, “Page-Turner” Pick

“Nakamura’s writing is spare, taut, with riveting descriptions . . . Nakamura conjures dread, and considers philosophical questions of fate and control . . . For all the thief’s anonymity, we come to know his skill, his powerlessness and his reach for life.”
—Cleveland Plain Dealer
 
“Nakamura’s memorable antihero, at once as believably efficient as Donald Westlake’s Parker and as disaffected as a Camus protagonist, will impress genre and literary readers alike.”
Publishers Weekly

“Compulsively readable for its portrait of a dark, crumbling, graffiti-scarred Tokyo—and the desire to understand the mysterious thief.”
Booklist
 
“Disguised as fast-paced, shock-fueled crime fiction, Thief resonates even more as a treatise on contemporary disconnect and paralyzing isolation.”
Library Journal

“Nakamura’s dark imagination gives rise to his literary world . . . the influences of Kafka and Dostoyevsky are not hard to spot.”
—The Japan Times

“Fast-paced, elegantly written, and rife with the symbols of inevitability.”
ForeWord

The Thief manages to wrap you up in its pages, tightly, before you are quite aware of it.”
—Mystery Scene
 
“[An] extremely well-written tale . . . Readers will be enthralled by this story that offers an extremely surprising ending.”
Suspense Magazine
 
“The reader catches glimpses of Japan and its lifestyle, which is far from a pretty picture.” 
—Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine

“Nakamura succeeds in creating a complicated crime novel in which the focus is not on the crimes themselves but rather on the psychology and physicality of the criminal. The book’s power inheres in the voice of the thief, which is itself as meticulously rendered as the thief’s every action.”
—Three Percent
 
“Both a crime thriller and a character study, it is a unique and engrossing read, keeping a distant yet thoughtful eye on the people it follows . . . It’s a haunting undercurrent, making The Thief a book that’s hard to shake once you’ve read it.”
—Mystery People
 
“The drily philosophical tone and the noir atmosphere combine perfectly, providing a rapid and enjoyable ‘read’ that is nonetheless cool and distant, provoking the reader to think about (as much as experience) the tale.”
—International Noir Fiction

“More than a crime novel, The Thief is a narrative that delves deep into the meaning of theft and the nature of justice . . . Japanese crime fiction has a new star."
—Out of the Gutter Magazine

“So many issues are raised in this novel. It is wonderfully brief, and spare, much like something Hemingway would write."
—Dolce Bellezza Blog

Publishers Weekly
Nakamura makes his English-language debut with this compelling look at a Tokyo pickpocket’s life. The thief, eventually identified as Nishimura, leads an anonymous existence dependent on his ability to become as physically close as possible to others without drawing the slightest attention. Crime fans won’t be surprised when outside entanglements compromise the peerlessly expert and solo Nishimura. While taking a protective interest in a prostitute’s young son, a budding thief in his own right, Nishimura also becomes involved, at his former partner Ishiwaka’s behest, with a home invasion. After the raid leaves an elderly politician dead, Nishimura finds himself under the thumb of its planner, the mysterious criminal mastermind Kizaki. Nakamura’s memorable antihero, at once as believably efficient as Donald Westlake’s Parker and as disaffected as a Camus protagonist, will impress genre and literary readers alike. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Handpicked by Nobel laureate Kenzaburo¯ O¯ e for his eponymous O¯ e Prize in 2009, Nakamura—who has also garnered many of Japan's other top awards (the Noma Literary New Face Prize, the coveted Akutagawa Prize)—makes his stateside debut-in-translation. Disguised as fast-paced, shock-fueled crime fiction, this work resonates even more as a treatise on contemporary disconnect and paralyzing isolation. The protagonist—a virtuoso pickpocket with Robin Hood tendencies—agrees to participate in what initially seems to be a simple robbery for a lucrative fee, only to become inescapably embroiled with the Tokyo crime world's omnipotent elite. Meanwhile, his last tenuous connection to society is a desperate young boy forced into clumsy shoplifting by his addicted, prostitute mother. With nowhere left to run, the thief must barter his life with a labyrinthine test of his thieving prowess. VERDICT Mystery/crime aficionados with exacting literary standards, as well as readers familiar with already established-in-translation Japanese writers Miyuki Miyabe (Shadow Family), Natsuo Kirino (Out; Grotesque), and Keigo Higashino (The Devotion of Suspect X), will especially enjoy discovering Nakamura.—Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616952020
  • Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/15/2013
  • Pages: 211
  • Sales rank: 788,740
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 4, 2012

    Good Read!

    Well-written story. Terse style. Pleasure to read. Surprise ending.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 22, 2013

    Written in first-person narrative, The Thief offers the reader a

    Written in first-person narrative, The Thief offers the reader an interesting look into the mind of a criminal. Despite his actions, you feel for him. You relate to his lost love, his interest is a poor boy’s future, and his uncertainty about his own worth. The fact that the main character is part of a different culture never really distracts from the story. The chapters are quick and the simplicity of the story is brilliant. Nakamura doesn’t bog down the reader with lots of characters, a maze of twists and turns to follow, or constant suspense. He allows the story to flow, and the current pulls the reader into a world where money means nothing and your identity depends entirely on who you think you should be.

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  • Posted June 18, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Light Fingers

    Interesting subject matter. A young pickpocket in Japan, crosses paths with some heavy weight gangsters. Can he make the score and still escape without being caught up in their web? The writing was a bit spare. Hard to tell whether it was intentional or not. I would like to see the characters fleshed out a bit more. I feel the author has some good ideas and a lot of potential. The book was provided for review by the well read folks at Soho Press.

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  • Posted May 3, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This novel is an interesting idea in need of fulfillment. Someh

    This novel is an interesting idea in need of fulfillment. Somehow, it leaves the reader somewhat confused. It recounts the development of a pickpocket who generally only removes wallets from rich people. Along the way, the author philosophizes about the “profession” of picking pockets, including a little history of some of the more famous practioners of the art.

    The thief himself tells the story in the first person. However, for all he has to say about his work and life, we learn very little about him and exactly why what happens to him in the end occurs. Or, really, about any of the other characters. They all seem to be symbols of something, but none is precisely explained.

    Tightly written, the book is a fast read. But on reaching the conclusion this reader, at least, wondered what it was all about. Hopefully, in a future work, the author will turn his talent to a more fully developed plot and characterizations, of which “The Thief” indicates he is capable. The book is worthy of note, and therefore is recommended despite the above reservations.

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  • Posted February 10, 2013

    The best contemporary Japanese novel I have read since discovering Natsuo Kirino!!

    The reviewer for the Richmond Times Dispatch got it exactly right when he defied readers not to finish the book in a single sitting. I could not put this down. Very existential and psychological, not really much of a "thriller," but fast-paced, and after a few days you just want to pick it up and read it again -- it's a modest 2-4 hour read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2014

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews

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