Author: David Mitchell.
My 6th David Mitchell novel. Pretty safe to say I’m a seasoned reader of his by now. This novel differs from Mitchell’s usual style of having different time periods and locations within one novel. It is similar in structure to his 2010 novel The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet or his 2006 novel Black Swan Green. This story follows Eiji Miyake on his quest to search for his father in Tokyo who he has never met. He is also estranged from his mother so he also tries to reconcile things with her too.
The story itself was a good blend of drama and crime. His father appears to be a high-powered lawyer so a lot of his associates try to prevent Eiji from coming into contact with his father. Because of this Eiji had to do a lot of espionage work himself but was also aided by his friend Suga who is a computer hacker. Some of the events land Eiji in with the Japanese mafia and he finds himself in the middle of these dangerous situations. From that perspective is was really enjoyable. There was a constant sense of excitement and danger. It made it a high-octane experience. It also had this slight anti-capitalistic/ hacking- culture feel to it, similar to the TV show Mr. Robot. If you enjoy that, you’ll find elements of it in this book.
The writing style was perfect. I can’t really be unbiased considering I love Mitchell’s work, but he was up to his usual standard in this piece. There was a good deal of humour between the characters which kept the prose light in the context of the crime plot. The setting was impeccable. The narrative winds its way through the streets of Tokyo and onto the surrounding Japanese countryside. Mitchell lived in Japan for a time so he knows this place well. I also enjoyed the experimental style of Eiji’s thought process. Parts of each chapter were based in the present but Mitchell mixes up the narrative as he gives flashes back to the past, or shows Eiji’s dreams, desires, or his daydreams. At some points he’s even in a game. It was a very playful way of writing, and gave a great insight into Eiji’s mind that was also a commentary on the narrative as a whole.
Even though I love the multiple stories, locations and timelines in some of Mitchell’s other novels, I must say this was a really enjoyable read. It was exciting, experimental, humorous and fast paced. A wonderful left-of-centre crime drama that enjoys playing with narrative form. Much recommended. Have a read!