Lady Joker, Volume 1: Book summary and reviews of Lady Joker, Volume 1 by Kaoru Takamura

Lady Joker, Volume 1

by Kaoru Takamura

Lady Joker, Volume 1 by Kaoru Takamura X
Lady Joker, Volume 1 by Kaoru Takamura
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  • Published Apr 2021
    600 pages
    Genre: Mysteries

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Book Summary

One of Japan's great modern masters, Kaoru Takamura, makes her English-language debut with this two-volume publication of her magnum opus.

Tokyo, 1995. Five men meet at the racetrack every Sunday to bet on horses. They have little in common except a deep disaffection with their lives, but together they represent the social struggles and griefs of post-War Japan: a poorly socialized genius stuck working as a welder; a demoted detective with a chip on his shoulder; a Zainichi Korean banker sick of being ostracized for his race; a struggling single dad of a teenage girl with Down syndrome. The fifth man bringing them all together is an elderly drugstore owner grieving his grandson, who has died suspiciously after the revelation of a family connection with the segregated buraku community, historically subjected to severe discrimination.

Intent on revenge against a society that values corporate behemoths more than human life, the five conspirators decide to carry out a heist: kidnap the CEO of Japan's largest beer conglomerate and extract blood money from the company's corrupt financiers.

Inspired by the unsolved true-crime kidnapping case perpetrated by "the Monster with 21 Faces," Lady Joker has become a cultural touchstone since its 1997 publication, acknowledged as the magnum opus by one of Japan's literary masters, twice adapted for film and TV and often taught in high school and college classrooms.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[A]n excellent crime novel...Takamura shows why she's one of Japan's most prominent mystery novelists." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Takamura uses a sensational high-profile crime from 1984 as the foundation for a layered examination of Japan's current social and economic inequities...Takamura's challenging, genre-confounding epic offers a sweeping view of contemporary Japan in all its complexity." - Kirkus Reviews

"Using the relationship between individuals and institutions as its axis, Lady Joker attempts to depict the contemporary era in its entirety. The effort is so reckless as to be almost quixotic, but with her formidable literary talents, Kaoru Takamura accomplishes her goal to a handsome degree...Lady Joker is a multilayered novel that allows for many interpretations, yet its structure places it firmly within the framework of a social-awareness mystery." - Shosetsu Subaru Literary Magazine (Japan)

"A novel that portrays with devastating immensity how those on the dark fringes of society can be consumed by the darkness of their own hearts." - Yoko Ogawa, author of The Memory Police

This information about Lady Joker, Volume 1 was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Kaoru Takamura

Kaoru Takamura was born in Osaka in 1953 and is the author of thirteen novels. Her debut, Grab the Money and Run, won the 1990 Japan Mystery and Suspense Grand Prize, and since then her work has been recognized with many of Japan's most prestigious awards for literary fiction as well as for crime fiction: the Naoki Prize, the Noma Literary Award, the Yomiuri Prize, the Shinran Prize, the Jiro Osaragi Prize, the Mystery Writers of Japan Award, and the Japan Adventure Fiction Association Prize. Lady Joker, her first novel to be translated into English, received the Mainichi Arts Award and has been adapted into both a film and a television series.

Allison Markin Powell is a literary translator, editor, and publishing consultant. She has been awarded grants from English PEN and the NEA, and the 2020 PEN America Translation Prize for The Ten Loves of Nishino by Hiromi Kawakami. Her other translations include works by Osamu Dazai, Kanako Nishi, and Fuminori Nakamura. She was the guest editor for the first Japan issue of Words Without Borders, and she maintains the database Japanese Literature in English.

Marie Iida has served as an interpreter for the New York Times bestselling author Marie Kondo's Emmy-nominated Netflix documentary series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Her nonfiction translations have appeared in Nang, MoMA Post, Eureka and over half a dozen monographs on contemporary Japanese artists and architects, including Yayoi Kusama, Toyo Ito, and Kenya Hara for Rizzoli New York. Marie currently writes a monthly column for Gentosha Plus about communicating in English as a native Japanese speaker.

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