The Sleeping Dragon Hardcover – Mar 24 2010
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"Miyabe is a subtle observer of a country on a cusp...Her American readers can only hope for more chances to see through her eyes." --Los Angeles Times"First published in Japan in 1991, Miyabe's taut suspense novel should win her new fans in the U.S. In the atmospheric opening, magazine investigative reporter Shogo Kosaka, who's driving at night through a typhoon that has struck near Tokyo, gives a lift to a high school boy marooned on the side of the road, Shinji Inamura. In the course of their rainsoaked journey, Shinji tells Shogo he has psychic abilities. After they happen on a father looking for his missing son, who's named Daisuke, Shinji has a vision of the two men responsible for Daisuke's disappearance (and murder). Despite initial skepticism, the journalist agrees to check the teenager's claims. Japan's #1 bestselling mystery author, Miyabe (The Devil's Whisper) keeps the reader guessing whether Shinji really has special powers or is scamming Shogo, and maintains the tension throughout." --Publishers Weekly"Miyabe keeps the reader guessing...and maintains the tension throughout." --Publishers Weekly"This novel is a balance of suspense and mystery mixed with the supernatural. For fans of Japanese crime fiction and Miyabe's other titles, specifically Crossfire, this will be a good choice. A strong title for any mystery reader." --Library Journal
About the Author
Best-selling author MIYUKI MIYABE has written more than 40 novels, including four previous works in English translation published by Kodansha: All She Was Worth, Shadow Family, Crossfire and The Devils Whisper (available in trade paperback in April 2009). Among her many awards is Japans top honor for popular literature, the Naoki Prize. Her books have been translated into over 15 languages. She is also the author of the young adult novel Brave Story, which won ALAs Batchelder Award.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The narrator Shogo Kosaka, in his early thirties, has already had reversals and grown a bit cynical. His fiancé dumped him for embarrassing reasons, and he got demoted as a result. Now he's an investigative reporter for a second-rate magazine. But Kosaka hides a good heart and a courageous spirit behind his wisecracks.
One night in a typhoon someone removes a manhole cover, and a little boy goes missing, probably drowned. Kosaka, driving home through the storm, gives a lift to sixteen-year-old Shinji Inamura. Shinji seems suspiciously knowledgeable about the incident. Finally he confesses to Kosaka that he's psychic. He wants Kosaka to help him find the culprits.
Kosaka has a hard time believing in Shinji's powers, particularly when Shinji turns out to have a friend who's also psychic. While Kosaka wavers between belief and fear of fakery, he's also dealing with a mystery at the office, where he's getting anonymous blank letters and threatening phone calls.
The quirky plot includes a poignant romance for Kosaka and plenty of challenges for Shinji's impulsive idealism.
The title comes from a comment by a wise old policeman: "...we all have a dragon inside us, with strange and unlimited powers. Sometimes the dragon is asleep, and other times it's awake..."
Miyuki Miyabe is highly original writer. She always delivers a gripping story and, as a bonus, brings us inside the psyche of contemporary Japan. No need to read her books in order; each stands on its own. This is a particularly good one.
When Shogo and Shinji take refuge in a nearby all-night restaurant and small inn, Shinji tells him the name of the boy's cat, the name of the man at the front desk, and personal information about the desk clerk's relationship with the waitress, things he should have no way of knowing, later confiding the truth-that he is different, "open," and he can "scan" people to know what they are thinking. He has "seen" a red Porsche, whose driver and passenger removed the manhole cover, and he knows the fate of the boy. Shogo, however, has no evidence and cannot tell the police without compromising young Shinji.
Somehow the author manages to make even a doubter like me "suspend disbelief" and just go with the story, which quickly becomes far more complicated, and involves another psychic teenager who tries to convince Shogo that Shinji is "sick," a fraud. Gradually, dozens of questions arise, both for Shogo and for the reader. What does the second psychic teenager have to gain by discrediting Shinji? Are they both real psychics? What should Shogo do concerning the two men in the red Porsche who actually removed the manhole cover? Who is sending him anonymous notes? How and why are Shogo's former fiancée and her husband involved in the action? How can Shogo protect Shinji, and should he protect him? Is Shogo being used?
The plot often feels like a bad dream from which the dreamer cannot escape. As in dreams, many disparate elements come together in unusual ways. People who don't seem to belong together somehow do, and plot elements which seem unrelated somehow connect. The reader feels empathy with the characters and compassion toward the psychic teenagers.
It is a tribute to the author that this novel, which was actually written in 1991, and only recently translated and published into English, is still fresh and exciting today. One of its strongest and most interesting aspects for western readers is its depiction of ordinary Japanese life. A desk clerk at a small inn where Shogo takes refuge from the typhoon lends Shogo some of his own clothes and boots so Shogo can return to the accident scene. The author illustrates and criticizes snobbish attitudes toward Japan's "elite" schools, and she refers to problems of compensation for "wronged" parents when an engagement of one of their children is broken. The most striking difference, however, is the constant apologizing and acceptance of "guilt" by seemingly strong characters, when events involving other people do not turn out as expected. This is a well-crafted and fascinating novel with paranormal touches--a great escape. Mary Whipple
All She Was Worth