Summary and book reviews of The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura

The Thief

By Fuminori Nakamura

The Thief
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  • Hardcover: Mar 2012,
    304 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2013,
    304 pages.

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Book Summary

The Thief is a seasoned pickpocket. Anonymous in his tailored suit, he weaves in and out of Tokyo crowds, stealing wallets from strangers so smoothly sometimes he doesn't even remember the snatch. Most people are just a blur to him, nameless faces from whom he chooses his victims. He has no family, no friends, no connections... But he does have a past, which finally catches up with him when Ishikawa, his first partner, reappears in his life, and offers him a job he can't refuse. It's an easy job: tie up an old rich man, steal the contents of the safe. No one gets hurt. Only the day after the job does he learn that the old man was a prominent politician, and that he was brutally killed after the robbery. And now the Thief is caught in a tangle even he might not be able to escape.

1

When I was a kid, I often messed this up. In crowded shops, in other people's houses, things I'd pick up furtively would slip from my fingers. Strangers' possessions were like foreign objects that didn't fit comfortably in my hands. They would tremble faintly, asserting their independence, and before I knew it they'd come alive and fall to the ground. The point of contact, which was intrinsically morally wrong, seemed to be rejecting me. And in the distance there was always the tower. Just a silhouette floating in the mist like some ancient daydream. But I don't make mistakes like that these days. And naturally I don't see the tower either.

In front of me a man in his early sixties was walking towards the platform, in a black coat with a silver suitcase in his right hand. Of all the passengers here, I was sure he was the richest. His coat was Brunello Cucinelli, and so was his suit. His Berluti shoes, probably made to order, did not show even the slightest scuffmarks. His wealth ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

...Nakamura deftly creates the tale of a Tokyo pickpocket while exploring questions of fate and manipulation. Here, the underworld bears little trace of the glamor that sometimes occurs in works featuring an anti-hero. As this criminal world consumes its members along with its victims, readers are treated to an empathetic portrayal of a man whose desire for life resurfaces under duress.   (Reviewed by Karen Rigby).

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Media Reviews
Author Blurb Kenzaburo Oe, Nobel Prize-winning author of A Personal Matter
I was deeply impressed with The Thief. It is fresh. It is sure to enjoy a great deal of attention once translated.

Author Blurb Natsuo Kirino, bestselling author of Edgar-nominated Out and Grotesque
Fascinating. I want to write something like The Thief someday myself.

Publishers Weekly

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.

ForeWord

Fast-paced, elegantly written, and rife with the symbols of inevitability

Booklist

Compulsively readable for its portrait of a dark, crumbling, graffiti-scarred Tokyo - and the desire to understand the mysterious thief.

Library Journal

Disguised as fast-paced, shock-fueled crime fiction, The Thief resonates even more as a treatise on contemporary disconnect and paralyzing isolation... 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 (Naoko, The Devotion of Suspect X), will especially enjoy discovering Nakamura.

Suspense Magazine

Readers will be enthralled by this story that offers an extremely surprising ending.

Mystery Scene

The Thief manages to wrap you up in its pages, tightly, before you are quite aware of it.

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Tokyo's Trains

Once known as Edo and renamed in the late 1860s, Tokyo - the capital of Japan - is a densely populated metropolis that has over 12 million inhabitants in the city proper and approximately 36 million people in the larger metropolitan prefecture. Located in the Kant? region, it is comprised of 23 wards, as well as 62 municipalities, which are served by over 500 train stations. Tokyo's electric trains, employed by locals and commuters alike, are known for their efficiency as well as their aesthetics.

Tokyo Metro logo Mentioned in The Thief are the Marunouchi line, which travels to the heart of Tokyo, a commercial and tourist center and also home of the Imperial Palace; Shinjuku Station (pictured), a major hub and, according to Guinness World Records, the ...

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