I was first introduced to Japanese fiction writer, Otsuichi (乙一), real name, Hirotaka Adachi (安達 寛高)‘s works via a Chinese-translated anthology of his short stories, ZOO. I bought the book at an eslite bookstore in Taipei last year. After reading one chapter of the book on the spot, the strange narrative so arrested me that I have to buy it to read till the end.
The book continued to captivate me for the next two days of my Taipei trip and I will read it whenever I can spare the time between sightseeing and shopping. Although we had a very packed itinerary; I still managed to complete reading almost 2/3 of book by the end of my trip.
On my last day in Taipei, I returned to eslite and bought three books [(夏天、煙火、我的屍體), (天帝妖狐) and (平面犬)] written by Otsuichi that I managed to find there:
To describe Otsuichi’s works, he is like a warped version of famous suspense writer, Roald Dahl. Otsuichi’s forte is in writing suspense short stories, especially those with a twist at the ending, much like Roald Dahl before he switched to writing children’s novels.
However, that’s where the similarity ends as Otsuichi’s stories are all dark and warped with protagonists who are usually social outcasts or misfits. Yet with his artful narrative, Otsuichi lets you into the inner world of these twisted characters and feel for their predicament.
For instance, in the first story in ZOO, the protagonist is one half of an identical twin sisters who is immensely disliked by her mom for reasons unexplained. Strangely, his eccentric and violent mom dotes on her younger sister of a few seconds; showering her with love and care while regularly abusing the protagonist. As the story goes, the protagonist got acquainted with a strange old lady who lost her cat and eventually got her own back at her evil mom and younger sister (I won’t reveal too much details in order not to spoil the surprise ending).
Otsuichi is very young btw; he was born in 1978 and in fact, won his first literature prize while he was in high school, for his work, 夏と花火と私の死体 (夏天、煙火、我的屍體). The story is about a little girl who died during a playful mishap and how her friends tried to cover up her death amidst the town’s fireworks carnival.
I am not sure if Otsuichi’s books are available here in Singapore, but if you are looking for light Chinese books to read, Otsuchi’s translated books are a good choice. 🙂
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