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From the Fatherland with Love Hardcover – May 9 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Pushkin Press (May 9 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1908968451
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908968456
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.2 x 5.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 Kg
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,481,855 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Ryu Murakami serves up his best so far. . . Aug. 10 2013
By Sye Sye - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
If you are a fan of Ryu Murakami, then this is an easy choice. It is a fast paced massive book with all the old Ryu Murakami sense of humour and darkness. It is a few steps up from 'Popular Hits of the Showa Era,' and Ishihara and Nobue turn up, which I really loved. This is my favourite Murakami work so far, and I've read all that have been translated to English. Don't be put off by the large cast listed at the front, Murakami is true to his style of brevity and wit. The narrative flows well and there are multiple points of view of the events. I won't spoil the story. You don't need to have read Ryu Murakami to enjoy this book, but other books may prepare you for his themes. Enjoy, I certainly did.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This as a book should come with a warning Not Recommended by the Japanese Tourist Board. Sept. 20 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book originally came out in Japan in 2005, placing the story in what would have been the near future, in a time of severe economic crisis, with the yen worth next to nothing, banks closed & both food & fuel in short supply. All this combines to leave Japan in a vulnerable state with it's close neighbours vying for dominance & it's one time allies unable or unwilling to help. Into this bleak picture steps an old enemy with a plan to invade, that is both as cunning in its set up as it is shocking in the simplicity in which it unfolds. North_Korea_Training_Exercise

Japan has become a nation whose time has passed, a place where camps for the unemployed and homeless are commonplace & living rough on the streets is the only reality for a growing number of the populace.

Into this scenario a force of highly trained & ruthless North Korean commandos easily infiltrate and take over control of the city of Fukuoka, setting up their own government with little resistance from the local population and often with help from self interested parties.

With the national government having no plans, no solutions and no idea who to blame, although that's not stopping them from trying to apportion it. With the government both local and central too scared to lift their heads out of their collective anuses, it is left to Murakami's Marauders, a disparate bunch of disaffected youth, social outcasts murderers, bombers & satanists to face the foe. This group under the leadership of Ishihara, an accomplished poet and winner of Kyushu Prefecture Cultural Award for Literary Excellence, decide that they will take on the North Koreans, they formulate a suitably diabolical plan, grab what weaponry they have stockpiled, within a short period of time slaughter and mayhem commences.

This as a book should come with a warning Not Recommended by the Japanese Tourist Board. No one comes out well, or to be more accurate the characters that one would feel most for, are the same ones that should be locked away from sight as not suitable, not fitting The Traditional Japanese Image (TM), in fact any image a nation would want to project concerning itself.

Earlier this year I read the other Murakami's (Haruki) books 1q84 and thought that it was an ambitious attempt to collate all of his ideas, themes & obsessions ( love, loneliness, surreal worlds, free will & religious cults) throughout his fiction and nonfiction into one grand expression, into one book. I also thought that although it was an epic effort - it was also a failure, that it didn't gel as a whole. I think that this idea also applies to Ryu Murakami, except From The Fatherland With Love succeeds, this book covers the usual areas of violence & technology, the divide between those that are excepted by and those society considers unwanted. It also shoves a great wedge between Japan's old martial/ traditional image and the reality of it's modern self, a nation that has not just lost it's way, but had no idea it had one. It also manages to chuck in another Ryu Murakami bugbear with references to Japan's reliance for protection on the USA.

The difference between From The Fatherland With Love, and 1q84 I believe is that Ryu Murakami's book works as a whole where 1q84 didn't. Ryu Murakami has created in this book a wonderful cast of characters in a tale that rollicks along with all the mayhem, violence & action one expects from a Ryu Murakami book & yet he still manages to gel his vision, still manages to get his world view down on the page & into the reader.
Just too silly May 27 2014
By Richard Jerram - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I usually love his weird view on the world but this is just too ridiculous, and the unsubtle political critique is just as annoying.
strange and wonderful Feb. 24 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Much like the rest of Murakami's work, this book is unflinching in its subject matter. Although the pacing was uneven, it was a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Destruction and Mayhem balanced with philosophical inquiry Dec 18 2013
By Steven J. Hansen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Patterned after a failed Third Reich espionage operation, From The Fatherland, With Love is the code name of a North Korean black ops that compels “a rebel army faction that is not a rebel army faction” to infiltrate Kyushu, a small island off the mainland of Japan, and hold it until a fleet of Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK) rust buckets completes the international annexation, delivering an irresistible force of 120,000 soldiers to the shores of the occupied Japanese island.

Exhaustive in its exploration of this insanely audacious military scheme, with far too many characters to keep track of without a cheat sheet (which is included in the front section of the novel for those eggheads who are inclined to try), Murakami’s nearly 700-page novel is not exclusive to the navel-gazer or adrenalin junkie, though both types may find it impossible to stop reading once they sink their meat hooks into this example of Murakami’s all-encompassing style of ass kicking.

In other words, FTFWL leavens a healthy dose of destruction and mayhem with a decent shot of philosophical inquiry. When you sympathize more with the DPRK commandos than with the 30,000 civilians they take hostage in the dome where the season opener for the local baseball team is taking place, you realize you’re in the hands of a maestro of set and frame. Both sides of the equation are products of their respective environments (frames) and have totally diametric sets of societal givens from which to work from: the North Koreans are spawned in a totalitarian hot-house cult of personality where brute force and intimidation are the people's daily bread whereas the Japanese spectators are so out of touch with the elbow-thrashing level of reality anymore, distracted by sports and entertainment and the overall decadence of their existence , that in the words of one of the DPRK commandos taking control of the dome, they’ve become “zombies who’d lost touch with their real souls.”

And the Japanese politicos who must confront this incursion on their own soil dither and do nothing, showing themselves to be a true extension of the people they purportedly are there to govern and protect. It crosses no one’s (except the North Koreans') mind that had the spectators in the dome bum-rushed the nine commandos that initiated the Korean incursion the whole thing would have been squashed with minimal collateral damage.

The North Koreans factored the lack of will of the people and their leaders into their plan, knowing that most if not all Japanese of this generation had no stomach for life-or-death struggle. The North Koreans are living examples of the axiom “Might Makes Right” and the futility of the concept of "right and wrong" when confronted with an unmitigated will to power and the force to back it up. The North Korean commandos had all been turned into killing machines through constant brutal training and the certainty of agonizing deaths for themselves and their families should they diverge from the DPRK party line. The Japanese civilians had all become sheep in thrall to sheep dressed in swank 3-piece suits.

The counterforce is applied by a band of murderous misfits who repudiate Japanese society and likewise are shunned and reviled by said, who are in no way a sympathetic band of brothers. At first, they even see the Korean invaders as kindred spirits who they will gladly range side-by-side with through the streets of their hated Japanese cities, raping and pillaging as they go. It is only after their leader, an old poet named Ishihara, intuits the reality of the Korean’s occupation -- that, should the Koreans succeed in fully taking the island, the Ishihara Group’s members would be singled out like diseased cattle that needed to be culled immediately from the herd -- that they decide to fight.

It is clear that these outcasts are woefully inferior to the Koreans in the discipline department and stand no chance in a head-on battle. But each individual in the Ishihara Group possesses some kind of aberrant skill (expertise in demolitions, boomerang chucking, poisonous insects … to name a few) that, when put together with the others’ adds up to something that just might be devised into a viable plan. The plan turns out to be the demolition of the high rise hotel the DPRK commandos have set up as their headquarters. With the help of the local equivalent of the Hell’s Angels, the Ishihara Group gains access to the unoccupied upper floors of the hotel and begin their deconstruction. Of course, things don’t go as planned. Charges are set. Challenges are met. Mayhem ensues and it all climaxes in a DPRK commando/Ishihara Group life-or-death struggle.

Amid the chaos and ultra-violence an important theme that has been building the entire novel culminates in one character’s moment of clarity:

Something more than just urine had exited Hino’s body when he peed himself: the thing they called ego or soul or spirit or something. He didn’t feel the cold water of the sprinklers as unpleasant, or as anything else. All he knew was he had to get back to work.

And get back to work, he does... Hino’s realization of universal oneness comes from within his individual nature. Conversely, the Koreans’ concept of oneness is driven into them from the outside with the delicacy of a sledgehammer on a railroad spike. Although both methods seem to be getting at the same conclusion, it can be inferred from the book's conclusion that true destiny is achieved not by threat or coercion, but through the difficult decisions and the sacrifices urged upon us to comply with by our own freewill.

And so, whatever the takeaway, this is one righteously entertaining smackdown of a novel which you will either read or you won't read since, in the final words of Ishihara-san himself, You're free to do as you please

Review originally published at tqrstories.com

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