Occupied City: Book summary and reviews of Occupied City by David Peace

Occupied City

by David Peace

Occupied City by David Peace X
Occupied City by David Peace
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  • Published Feb 2010
    288 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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Book Summary

A fierce, exquisitely dark novel that plunges us into post–World War II Occupied Japan in a Rashomon-like retelling of a mass poisoning (based on an actual event), its aftermath, and the hidden wartime atrocities that led to the crime.

On January 26, 1948, a man identifying himself as a public health official arrives at a bank in Tokyo. There has been an outbreak of dysentery in the neighborhood, he explains, and he has been assigned by Occupation authorities to treat everyone who might have been exposed to the disease. Soon after drinking the medicine he administers, twelve employees are dead, four are unconscious, and the “official” has fled . . .

Twelve voices tell the story of the murder from different perspectives. One of the victims speaks, for all the victims, from the grave. We read the increasingly mad notes of one of the case detectives, the desperate letters of an American occupier, the testimony of a traumatized survivor. We meet a journalist, a gangster-turned-businessman, an “occult detective,” a Soviet soldier, a well-known painter. Each voice enlarges and deepens the portrait of a city and a people making their way out of a war-induced hell.

Occupied City immerses us in an extreme time and place with a brilliantly idiosyncratic, expressionistic, mesmerizing narrative. It is a stunningly audacious work of fiction from a singular writer.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. This literary thriller will more than satisfy readers with a taste for ambiguity." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Powerful and ambitious .. deepened by a multiperspective, Rashomon-like approach. But reader be warned: The immensely talented Peace is not in the business of making his work easy." - Kirkus Reviews

"Crossed-out sentences, shouty capitals and Beckettian repetition are deliberate stylistic quirks that make a cracking story at best hard work and, at worst, exasperatingly pretentious." - The Guardian (UK)

"Peace lived in Japan for 15 years, and his writing is saturated with Japanese sensibility. Tokyo Year Zero deployed Japan's idiosyncratic giseigo and gitaigo (onomatopoeic or symbolic language) to great effect. In Occupied City, single voices speak in interwoven strands; there is rhythm and repetition, like a chanted sutra. The final chapter is a recasting of the Noh drama Sumidagawa. For pages at a time, literal meaning is subordinate to sense impressions." - Victoria James, The Independent (UK)

"What really sinks the novel, though, is the endless repetition. 'I am falling, I am falling, I am falling,/I am falling, I am falling,/I am falling’, bleats a survivor, but the words could equally apply to Peace himself. It is astonishing in these straitened times that Faber has felt able to publish such an egregious example of authorial self-indulgence." - The Telegraph (UK)

This information about Occupied City 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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This is the second volume in Peace's planned Tokyo trilogy following Tokyo Year Zero. David Peace is the author of the Red Riding Quartet, GB84, The Damned Utd, and Tokyo Year Zero. He was chosen as one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists of 2003, and has received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the German Crime Fiction Award, and France’s Grand Prix du Roman Noir for Best Foreign Novel. In 2007, he was named as GQ (UK) Writer of the Year. He lived in Tokyo for fifteen years before returning to his native Yorkshire.

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