Book Talk: A Man by Keiichiro Hirano
“ Hirano’s English-language debut, a shape-shifting psychological thriller…As back-alley gritty and entertaining as a Raymond Chandler novel, the book asks what it means to be ‘you,’ and suggests that the answer means nothing at all. Hirano’s stylish, suspenseful noir should earn him a stateside audience.”
About the Book
A man follows another man’s trail of lies in a compelling psychological story about the search for identity, by Japan’s award-winning literary sensation Keiichiro Hirano in his first novel to be translated into English.
Akira Kido is a divorce attorney whose own marriage is in danger of being destroyed by emotional disconnect. With a midlife crisis looming, Kido’s life is upended by the reemergence of a former client, Rié Takemoto. She wants Kido to investigate a dead man—her recently deceased husband, Daisuké. Upon his death she discovered that he’d been living a lie. His name, his past, his entire identity belonged to someone else, a total stranger. The investigation draws Kido into two intriguing mysteries: finding out who Rié’s husband really was and discovering more about the man he pretended to be. Soon, with each new revelation, Kido will come to share the obsession with—and the lure of—erasing one life to create a new one.
In A Man, winner of Japan’s prestigious Yomiuri Prize for Literature, Keiichiro Hirano explores the search for identity, the ambiguity of memory, the legacies with which we live and die, and the reconciliation of who you hoped to be with who you’ve actually become.
Reviews and What Readers Say
“ What sort of novel is A Man? Hirano dangles a number of possibilities before the reader, from existential thriller to full-on spy novel. That a novel that deals so thoroughly with the ambiguities of identity should have its own identity be in question is utterly fitting. Did I mention it’s also a gripping read?"
—Words Without Borders
“ This story is about Rie, a woman who finds out that her husband was not the person he told her he was. And Kido, the lawyer dedicated to finding out who the husband was. Kido is a Korean who lives in Japan and is a Japanese citizen. Throughout the book, we feel his growing apprehension about the failure of his marriage and his status as a Korean, with deep commentary about the racism against Koreans. A rich, thought provoking, and difficult read."
—Miheu, Amazon Reader's Review
“ All my favorite things: liver transplant, body doubles, penguins, literary allusions, philosophy. This is a psychological story (my preference) as well as a detective story. The language (I read the English translation by Eli K.P. William) feels modern and fresh."
—Tucker Lieberman, Amazon Reader's Review
“ Keiichiro Hirano’s A Man has all the trappings of a gripping detective story: a bereaved wife, a dead man whose name belongs to someone else, mysterious coded letters, a lawyer intent on uncovering the truth. Together with a willfully understated title, however, these features belie a deeply thoughtful novel whose mystery premise gives way to an examination of the most profound questions of identity and artistic creation. In a work so rooted in Japanese cultural history, the questions posed by the author become distinctly literary, moving ultimately to address the very practice of novel-writing.” —Arts Desk
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Keiichiro Hirano is an award-winning and bestselling novelist whose debut novel, The Eclipse, won the prestigious Akutagawa Prize in 1998, when he was a twenty-three-year-old university student. A cultural envoy to Paris appointed by Japan’s Ministry of Cultural Affairs, he has given lectures throughout Europe. Widely read in France, China, Korea, Taiwan, Italy, and Egypt, Hirano is also the author of At the End of the Matinee, a runaway bestseller in Japan, among many other books. His short fiction has appeared in The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature. A Man, winner of Japan’s Yomiuri Prize for Literature, is the first of Hirano’s novels to be translated into English. For more information, visit en.k-hirano.com and follow Hirano on Twitter at @hiranok_en.Eli K. P. William is the author of the Jubilee Cycle, three novels set in a dystopian future Tokyo: Cash Crash Jubilee, The Naked World, and A Diamond Dream. Originally from Toronto, Canada, he has lived in Japan for over a decade and has spent most of that time working as a Japanese translator. A Man is his first full novel translation to be published. For more information, visit www.elikpwilliam.com