A Collection Of Japanese #CulturalFiction Stories. Rosie’s #Bookreview of The Cat And The City by Nick Bradley @nasubijutsu @AtlanticBooks

The Cat and The CityThe Cat and The City by Nick Bradley

4 stars

The Cat And The City is a collection of interlinking short-stories which are set in Tokyo in the run up to the 2020 Olympic games.

The stories, all very different, feature human characters who each have a brush with a mysterious street cat; it weaves its way into each of the tales. As you read on you discover there are small links between the separate stories, and I was nodding my head each time I picked up a common thread.

Author Nick Bradley has brought the reader real-life Tokyo through lost and often lonely characters, even though they may live in a city with 13 million other humans. Bradley portrays a mix of people reflecting both the old and the new of Toyko, with its cosmopolitan inhabitants.

I was very lucky and won a copy of this book; it is very different from the style of books that I often read, so I was delighted when I enjoyed the tales. I would recommend this to readers who have an interest in Japanese cultural fiction and perhaps to feline fans.

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In Tokyo – one of the world’s largest megacities – a stray cat is wending her way through the back alleys. And, with each detour, she brushes up against the seemingly disparate lives of the city-dwellers, connecting them in unexpected ways.

But the city is changing. As it does, it pushes her to the margins where she chances upon a series of apparent strangers – from a homeless man squatting in an abandoned hotel, to a shut-in hermit afraid to leave his house, to a convenience store worker searching for love. The cat orbits Tokyo’s denizens, drawing them ever closer.

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A Novel Set In Japan. @SandraFirth3 Reviews #Thriller Kimura: A Tale of a Japanese Murderess by R.G. Honda.

Today’s team review is from Sandra. She blogs here https://www.firthproof.co.uk/index.php/book-reviews

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sandra has been reading Kimura: A Tale of a Japanese Murderess by R.G. Honda.

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I chose to read Kimura: A Tale of a Japanese Murderess because of the setting as I am fascinated by Japanese culture, and this did not disappoint.
The novel opens with Naoko realising that she has killed her husband; he is lying in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs, but was it an accident? She makes her escape and goes off to meet her friend Akari at a festival. There are hints that Naoko has a problem controlling her violent temper, both with her husband and with her sister, Yuki, who disappeared seven years previously. They now have a lead on her whereabouts and plan to rescue her. With the police chasing Naoko, they are forced to go on the run, but will they get to Yuki before it is too late?
This novel reads as though it was translated from the Japanese as some of the expressions are strangely stilted and awkward – I could find no information as to whether this was the case or not – but this did not hinder my understanding and perhaps added something to the narrative. There are graphic scenes of violence and torture, so bear that in mind before you begin reading as it is not for the faint-hearted.
The characters are well drawn and believable, except perhaps for Yuki who is almost a caricature, and I really liked Takamoto, the old man who lived on the boat. I loved the road trip section of the plot, and could imagine this book being made into a dark atmospheric film. The setting comes across as completely authentic, but the underlying theme of the human trafficking and slavery was deeply upsetting.
I was unable to find out anything about this author, so have no idea if they have written anything else, but would like to thank them for the digital copy that I chose to review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT

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 A Japanese tale of murder, hold ups and car chases. Naoko Kimura, a woman with a history of spontaneous violence, unintentionally murders her husband on the same night she learns of the whereabouts of her long lost half-sister. Believing her sister to be the victim of a mass kidnap scheme, Naoko and her closest friend, Akari Sato, resolve to travel across the length of Japan with no transportation and a pittance to their name in order to find her. All the while, they are subjected to a manhunt by the national police force.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #SpeculativeFiction TOKYO MAYDAY by Maison Urwin

Today’s team review is from Frank. Find out more about Frank here https://franklparker.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Frank has been reading Tokyo Mayday by Maison Urwin

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This is a dystopian novel with a difference – and with an important message. Around forty or fifty years from now the Western economies have collapsed, replaced by a resurgent Asia led by Japan. There, migrants are employed on low wages to undertake the jobs that native Japanese don’t want. A right-wing political movement uses the media to foment resentment about such migrants, as well as those without jobs who are housed in squalid camps adjacent to the ports. Those with jobs are provided with sub-standard accommodation.

When a Japanese monopoly auto-manufacturer closes its three plants in the former UK, now reduced to the Federal Republic of England and Wales, or FREW, one employee from each is offered a position in a Japanese plant. One such is Jordan May. He sets out for Japan accompanied by his wife, Shaylie, and their son, Alfie. As the family attempt to settle into their new life, they become embroiled in a peaceful protest movement dedicated to improving the lot of immigrants.

By inverting the present situation in Europe, where migrants are often resented and exploited, Urwin is able to show what it feels like to be the object of such discrimination and abuse. The plot, and counterplot, as a mysterious former diplomat fills the role of puppet-master to the boss of the corporation, in opposition to the corrupt right-wing politician, has several threads which come together as a huge demonstration takes place on the streets of Tokyo.

The tension is gradually ramped up as the various protagonists go about their daily business and the thugs employed by the right-wing politician engage in clandestine bullying of the migrant family. Jordan’s conflicting emotions, as he balances the possibility of jeopardising his family’s future well-being against his desire to help those migrants who are worse off than him because of their lack of appropriate skills, are convincingly portrayed. So, too, is the evolution of the relationship between fifteen year old Alfie and the older Japanese girl assigned to mentor him as the only gaijin (foreigner) in the Japanese high school.

I can readily imagine that some readers will sneer at the inclusion of one or two too many coincidences. Yet it is hard to see how else the author could have shown different aspects of the personalities of some of the principle players. The business man’s life as a family man and the politician’s private perversions are given greater weight by their impact on members of the May family.

Unwin has lived in Japan and presents a convincing portrait of Japanese culture and the geography of Tokyo. The family’s English home, in the author’s native Essex, is equally well drawn, with descriptions of the future devastation expected to be caused to that county’s coast by rising sea levels. Where I take issue with a central aspect of the story is in the depiction of the puppet-master’s background. Institutionalised child sexual abuse, racist abuse, and bullying are all topical subjects. To be credible as influences in the development of a particular personality they need to be properly contextualised. Here we are offered, instead, clichéd depictions of a British public school and the UK diplomatic service.

4 stars.

Book description

This is Maison Urwin’s debut novel, which follows the ordeal of a family’s economic migration from the Federal Republic of England & Wales to Tokyo.

The power is in the East.

The Federal Republic of England & Wales is in crisis.

Western economic collapse has led to mass economic migration to China, Korea and especially Japan. Jordan May is offered a transfer with Matsucorp and takes wife, Shaylie, and son, Alfie, to a new and bewildering life in the Orient. The book is set in the 2050s when, following the end of capitalism in Europe, the Far East is now considered the developed world. Society in the West has fallen apart and the East Asia is the destination of choice for economic migrants who are prepared to take risks and endure prejudice in the search for a better life.

The May family emigrates from Harwich, England to Japan and husband, wife and son battle discrimination, are embroiled in political activism and forbidden romance, are targeted in racist attacks and are endangered by unwitting gangland involvement. As the climax approaches in a violent political demonstration on the streets of Tokyo, we begin to discover the extent to which a mysterious, wiry Englishman has manipulated each of them.

This work of speculative fiction sees the Mays thrust into industrial politics, illegal unionisation and hostessing. Teenage love and the organisation of a mass demonstration take place against a backdrop of racial tension and the rise of the far right.

Could Shaylie’s life be in danger? Is the mafia involved?

And just who is the Machaivellian Stepson Struthwin who sits on Matsucorp’s board and has such a hold over the lives of those around him?

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