It’s no secret that I love Japanese literature. There’s something about it that takes over my mind as I’m reading and creates an addiction. It began when I read Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. That wasn’t so long ago, but it’s become one of my favorite genres. This book I’ve just finished, A True Novel by Minae Mizumura, solidified it even more.
A True Novel is a story within a story within another story. It revolves around one mysterious man with a tragic history. The book begins in New York with the narrator relating how she came to meet this man, Taro Azuma, and how she never quite stopped thinking about him, although their acquaintance was brief. By coincidence or by fate, she is approached by a young man who knows much more than she ever did about Taro, and he relates to her the story that was given to him back in Japan.
For the first time in ages I found a book that keeps me awake at night; when I found myself closing my eyes and drifting off, I’d reach again for the book thinking, “Just a few more pages!” It reminded me of my time in high school, walking the hallways between classes with my head down and a book open because I wanted to spend every free moment reading it. When I picked it up from the library, I didn’t realize that I only had Book I of a two-volume novel. When I saw that Book II wasn’t immediately available from the library, I jumped on Amazon and ordered by own copy of the set. It came two days later – just in time for me to finish the first book.
The first thing you’ll hear about A True Novel from Goodreads or Amazon is that it’s a remaking of Wuthering Heights. If you decide to read the book, forget about that. It has nothing to do with this story. A True Novel stands on its own. So while the book is part metafiction, part reimagining, it’s really an engrossing story that will stay with you long after you’ve finished it.
TL;DR: If you read no other fiction this year, read this one. I mean it.