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NIPPONIA NIPPON by Kazushige Abe
Translated by Kerim Yasar
At just seventeen, Haruo Toya’s life is in free fall. Shunned by his parents after stalking his schoolmate, Sakura Motoki, and mourning Sakura’s death, Haruo effectively lives the life of a hikikomori. Shut away in his room at a family friend’s house, he fixates on a new obsession, the endangered Japanese Crested Ibis (Nipponia Nipon). Scouring the net, he learns everything there is to know about these majestic birds. But mostly, he studies the layout of their last protective sanctuary, planning “the final solution to the Nipponia Nippon problem.” Much like Travis Bickle or Clockwork Orange’s Alex, Haruo is a study in violent madness simmering, percolating, readying itself to be unleashed on an unsuspecting society. And much like them, when Haruo sets his plan in action, it explodes in chaos.
Nipponia Nippon is one of the most disturbing books I’ve read. In prose both clinical and obsessive, Kazushige Abe peels away the layers of Haruo’s mind, exposing a unsettling mix of logic and delusion, desperation and perfect composure. It all builds to a cataclysmic climax, followed by a twist so unexpected, so confusing that I’m dying to discuss it with anyone who reads this astonishing novella.
Nipponia Nippon by Kazushige Abe (Tr. Kerim Yasar)
Pushkin Press, 2023