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Naoko [Paperback]

Keigo Higashino , Kerim Yasar
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 19.95
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Book Description

Aug. 1 2004
Winner of the Japan Mystery Writers Award, Naoko is a black comedy of hidden minds and lives. Navigating the interstices between the real and the unreal with perfect plot twists, this page-turner is also a critique of gender relations by a male Japanese writer, one of their best-sellng.

An everyman, Heisuke works hard at a factory job to provide for his wife, Naoko, and young daughter, Monami. He takes pleasure from the small things, like breakfast with both of them after a night shift. His placid life is rocked when, looking up from his microwave dinner one evening, he realizes the TV news that he wasn't paying attention to is reporting a catastrophic bus accident and the names of his loved ones.

When Monami finally wakes from a coma, she seems to think she's Naoko, who has died protecting her daughter. More disturbingly, the girl knows things only Naoko could know. The family life that resumes between the modest man and a companion who looks like his daughter bu seems like his dead wife is ticklish-funny until it begins hurtling toward a soul-shattering end.

In addition to winning Japan's top mystery prize, Naoko inspired a blockbuster movie. Read this work, a match for the later Bunuel, to find out why Higashino is considered the most ambitious and versatile mystery hand at work in Japan.

Frequently Bought Together

Naoko + Salvation of a Saint: A Detective Galileo Novel + The Devotion of Suspect X: A Detective Galileo Novel
Price For All Three: CDN$ 44.83


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Review

Winner of the Japan Mystery Writers Award

“Higashino is a deft conjurer of human relationships, and while this is first and foremost a tale of grief— thankfully, no one calls Naoko a story of redemption—he infuses it with spasms of sharp humor.” —East Bay Express

“The novel flips suddenly…in wonderfully pleasing fashion, from pathetic tragedy to social satire and domestic comedy with themes of love, work, sex and education. How could we have ever imagined, without the help of a novel like this, that Japanese life could be so fraught with suffering and so entertaining all at once?” —Alan Cheuse for the Dallas Morning News

"It's the realness of the characters ..that makes the fantastic story more believable and harder to put down." - Mecha Mecha Media Blogspot

About the Author

Born in 1958, Keigo Higashino studied electrical engineering and worked as a salaryman until he wom the Edogawa Rampo Mystery Award in 1985. Originally a detective novelist, he has branched out to other genres, including science fiction. Naoko is his first work to appear in English.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE MEMORY OF NAOKO LINGERS ON May 8 2011
By robert
Format:Paperback
HERE IS A MASTERFUL NOVEL THAT IS NOT SET IN CALIFORNIA, HAS NO VIOLENCE, NO FOUL LANGUAGE, NO TERRORISTS, NO RAPISTS, NO GRAPHIC SEX, NO GOVERNMENTAL PARANOIA. IT IS THE SPELLBINDING TALE OF A MOTHER OCCUPYING HER DEAD DAUGHTERS BODY. THE CONSEQUENCES TURN THE PAGES. SET IN JAPAN, THE CULTURE IS DIFFERENT, THE EMOTIONS UNIVERSAL. THE AUTHOR, HIGASHINO, IS A STORY TELLER OF THE HIGHEST ORDER. IF YOU LIKE THIS BOOK MOVE ON TO HIS "THE DEVOTION OF SUSPECT X"
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars July 28 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Interesting
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally gripping, thoughtful story Nov. 2 2005
By Andrew - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I was surprised I had such a visceral reaction to the story, and strongly recommend this book. The story is very deep, and the events made me think all the time about myself and the characters. This would be a great book club book because it makes you think about and want to discuss your personal relationships, your own emotions and feelings, and how you would handle situations in the book.

The characters and what happens to them brought out very real emotions in me. I unconsciously made faces as I reacted to what was happening. This was one of those books that really touched me and I can't recommend it enough. I feel like I have had, or could have, the same feelings and fears that are displayed in this book. That helped me identify with the characters and I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a deep, personal, and very interesting story.
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Tale April 1 2005
By Daniel Marsh - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Naoko is a tale of metempsychosis--the transference of the mind or spirit of one person into the body of another. Heisuke Sugita is a blue color worker in Japan, assembling fuel injectors in an auto parts factory in suburban Tokyo. One morning while watching tv, he sees a news report about a bus accident near the sky resort town of Nagano. It takes several minutes before he realizes that it is the bus his wife Naoko and eleven year old daughter Monami were taking to visit relatives.

Naoko dies in the bus crash, while Monami is left in a coma. When Monami regains consciousness, she tells Heisuke she is Naoko, that the spirit of the mother has taken over the body of the daughter.

What follows are the social and psychological consequences of this apparently supernatural event, for Heisuke, and for Naoko/Monami. They decide to tell no one, to keep it a secret. In fact, the Japanese title of the book, Himitsu, means Secret. Once Heisuke becomes convinced that the metempsychosis is real, and permanent, he grieves because he has lost his daughter, while all those about him think he has lost his wife. For "Naoko" to maintain their secret, she must continue Monami's life as an elementary school student.

The author, Keigo Higashino, carefully and skillfully works out the logical consequences of this event. How would a married man, of normal sexual desires, deal with a situation where the spirit of his wife is inhabiting the body of his young daughter? Higashino does deal with the issue of conjugal relations, although briefly, and in a non-salacious way. Most of the book dwells on the development of Naoko/Monami, as she matures socially. In a sense, it is answering the question, what would you do if you were a middle aged housewife, and you suddenly and unexpectedly got to live your life over again, from the age of eleven? What would you do differently? Could you, in fact, correct your life's mistakes? Could you become a better person? And in a question fraught with tragedy and irony, what do you do when your husband is now, physically, your father?

I read this book in two days. My basic impression is that it is interesting and thoughtful. It's not exciting, it's not gripping, but it is satisfying. Not a great book, but a pretty good book. Worth buying, if you like that kind of thing.

One quibble: The English translation, by Kerim Yasar, consistently writes "all right" as "alright." Perhaps this was done to reflect Heisuke's lack of education, paralleling something in the underlying Japanese, but it's jarring, and ineffective.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing situation in a meandering novel July 21 2009
By David Bonesteel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
A tragic bus accident causes the spirit of a woman, Naoko, to take over the body of her daughter, Monami. Naoko's body dies, and Monami's essence appears to be lost forever. Naoko and her husband, Heisuke, decide to deal with this situation in secret. After all, who would believe them? So, to the world, it appears that Heisuke is a widower living with his daughter, when in fact his daughter has died and he is living with his wife--although, really, he has lost them both.

When author Keigo Higashino is focused on this complex relationship, his novel is quite involving and even moving, although it is not as suspenseful or edgy as the cover copy would have us believe. Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of extraneous material to slow down a narrative that is already rather relaxed and subdued. I kept waiting for Heisuke's investigation into the circumstances of the bus crash and the driver's background to tie in with the main narrative, but it never did. I also couldn't help thinking that, given Naoko's detailed knowledge of her own life, they probably could have convinced members of Naoko's family about what had happened, thereby sharing the burden. However, the end of the novel is quite touching and satisfactory.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting novel yet predictable to some extent... Aug. 17 2006
By JB - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
After a terrible accident, Naoko switches bodies with her daughter who dies after the tragic event. All of the sudden she needs to adjust to the life of an elementary school girl again. Heisuke, her husband, must get used to the idea of never sexually touching his wife again, since she is "trapped" in his daughter Monami's body. What I enjoyed about this book is the fact that ordinary people are forced to face an extraordinary situation in a most realistic way.It is very easy to identify oneself with the characters and their predicament since one would probably end up reacting the same way.

However, the story towards the end was a bit predictable: I knew what was going to happen, so the final "twist" wasn't that shocking. Nevertheless, I recommend this book since it is entertaining and thought provoking.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this author April 12 2013
By Clara125 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My new favorite author. I hope more of his books will be translated into English. Check out Devotion of Suspect X.
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