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Evil and the Mask [Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Fuminori Nakamura , Kirby Heyborne
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

11 Jun 2013
The second book by prize-winning Japanese novelist Fuminori Nakamura to be available in English translation, a follow-up to 2012's critically acclaimed The Thief─another fantastically creepy, electric literary thriller that explores the limits of human depravity─and the powerful human instinct to resist evil.
When Fumihiro Kuki is eleven years old, his elderly, enigmatic father calls him into his study for a meeting. "I created you to be a cancer on the world," his father tells him. It is a tradition in their wealthy family: a patriarch, when reaching the end of his life, will beget one last child to dedicate to causing misery in a world that cannot be controlled or saved. From this point on, Fumihiro will be specially educated to learn to create as much destruction and unhappiness in the world around him as a single person can. Between his education in hedonism and his family's resources, Fumihiro's life is one without repercussions. Every door is open to him, for he need obey no laws and may live out any fantasy he might have, no matter how many people are hurt in the process. But as his education progresses, Fumihiro begins to question his father's mandate, and starts to resist.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Audiogo; Unabridged edition (11 Jun 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1482101254
  • ISBN-13: 978-1482101256
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 13.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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5.0 out of 5 stars a very good read. 16 July 2013
By tony
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
hi,more of fuminori nakamura should be translated into english,he writes unusual stories,with very good story lines and good characters.if you wish to enjoy a very good read,and more ,his first book was very good to.i will not give the story away,thats for you to find and enjoy.good reading.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The death of emotion 11 Jun 2013
By TChris - Published on Amazon.com
"It wasn't revenge. I simply wanted to set him on fire. Air, that was the word that came to mind. I felt as little emotion as air." Fumihiro wants to destroy evil, but does the killer of evil become the thing he kills? That question lies at the heart of Evil and the Mask, the second novel by Fuminori Nakamura (after The Thief) to be translated into English.

Evil and the Mask opens with a fascinating premise. It is a tradition for men in a certain family, after attaining the age of sixty, to sire a child who will become a cancer in the world, tasked with spreading misery. The men do this to punish the world for continuing to exist after they perish. In an attention-grabbing first chapter, Shozo Kuki explains the tradition to his youngest son, Fumihiro. Shozo tells Fumihiro he will experience hell when he turns fourteen. Hell will somehow involve Kaori, an orphaned girl Shozo adopted, and to whom Fumihiro becomes attached.

The novel jumps between the formative events of Fumihiro's childhood and the present, more than a dozen years later. The adult Fumihiro has changed his face to match that of Koichi Shintani, a dead man whose identity Fumihiro purchased on the black market. The plot springs forward along three twisted paths. One involves Shintani's past and the baggage that comes with it. Another brings Fumihiro (with Shintani's face) into Kaori's life again, but in a very different role. The third introduces a cultish group of pseudo-terrorists who use absurdity to undermine culture.

Like The Thief, Evil and the Mask is a novel of psychological suspense. The story's strength involves Fumihiro's struggle to shed one identity and to adopt another, to reinvent himself -- an impossible task, perhaps. It's easy to change a face and a name, not so easy to change your inner self, to abandon memories. Unlike The Thief, however, Evil and the Mask is so determinedly a novel of psychology that some characters indulge in lengthy analytical speeches -- about beauty, death, morality, anarchy, entropy, familial love, the motivations for violence and war, the nature of evil -- that too often seem forced.

Still, the character of Fumihiro is impressively constructed. The reader feels the crushing weight of his oppressive past, his struggle to feel something. His coffee has no flavor, he doesn't notice the cold. He is little more than an animated corpse. He has forsaken the happiness he experienced while he and Kaori were still innocent -- a happiness that the adult Fumihiro regards as "some kind of mistake" that "soon vanished into the distance." He still longs for Kaori but fears that another character's prediction will come true, that he will destroy the one thing in the world that remains precious to him if he gets close to her. Can Fumihiro shed the despondency that consumes him only by embracing madness? Whether his future is to be determined by destiny or choice, the novel's dramatic tension comes from the uncertainty of the path that Fumihiro's life will follow.

Evil and the Mask is a meditation on change and choice, on killing and on what it means to be alive. Apart from its philosophical implications, the story is intriguing. The plot threads weave together convincingly, although the storyline involving Shintani's past doesn't quite reach its potential. The ending (like The Thief, inconclusive, permitting the reader to imagine what might happen next) is satisfying. If I could, I would give Evil and the Mask 4 1/2 stars.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars nothing is what it seems 11 July 2013
By mean incognito monkey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a page turner and a half, for there is much mystery in this story of a boy who has been told his only purpose in this life is to be a cancer to his fellow humans.

He carries this burden as one might imagine, yet his thoughts and actions are surprisingly delicate. At each turn in his life he will show more grace, intelligence and cunning than we might ever expect from him. As might be expected, he is terribly depressed and the book discusses in depth, the collective human depression of the 20th and 21st centuries. We've endured two world wars and any number of incredibly savage smaller wars on one another. There is cause and there is effect. And ultimately there is much guilt, as well.

Eventually the boy becomes a man and would seem to be stumbling through specific events of his life, even accomplishing much of what he seeks to acheive. But what does he seek? ..........well, it's not for me to reveal but for the reader to discover.

This book opens very powerfully and then settles into a narrative far more sublime, devious and subtle.

Great book, so poetically and personally written, I gifted myself stolen moments to continue.

I confess I love Japanese authors. Theirs is an approach and sensibility quite different from the western one and they express themselves in a unique emotional vocabulary. This book particularly uses it to further the plot and I loved these glimpses.

Nothing is ever what it seems, and very little goes where we expect or what we're been accustomed to in our narratives.

You know how it begins - with a little boy, a little girl and a very old and devious father, but nothing and no one are exactly what you think. The ending is perfect. Now I will read Mr. Nakamura's first book. :)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "You will become a cancer. A personification of evil, you could say." 17 Jun 2013
By Amelia Gremelspacher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a quote from the conversation between the narrator and his sixy year old father. Certainly it is one of the most arresting opening scenes which I have ever read. The father is vastly wealthy and accordingly powerful and claims that this tradition has been followed intermittently through the years. Kuki is then introduced to Kaori, a fellow eleven year old girl, who has been adopted and grows up with him. They are lovers as the years progress, but the father's abuse of Kaori poisons their physical love.

At the end of the first chapter, Kuki reveals to is that his father is too late. Kuki is already a cancer because he had brooded over killing his father for years. The father is certainly creepy and undoubtably evil. But I never really got a sure handle on Kuki. The twists and turns of this story are designed to keep us off balance. I know that Kuki loves Kaori and will do anything to protect her. But if I HAD to give you just one meaningful spoiler, I would be hard pressed to do so.

The writing is well articulated and clear in its meaning. Even with the impossible plot switchbacks, I felt I was following the author's development of his story. The character development is fascinating. You might find yourself muttering to yourself several times, but that still doesn't change the fact that this is an intriguing little story.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overcoming Evil 8 Nov 2013
By Ted Feit - Published on Amazon.com
In this author's second novel to be excellently translated into English, a story in an extremely different genre takes the reader into the realm of crime noir of an unusual nature. It tells the story of an 11-year-old boy whose father informs him that he is to be trained to become a "cancer" on the world, creating havoc and misery wherever he goes. The family, it seems, has developed a long line of such evil, each generation spawning one such monster.

So the training begins, and a young girl is brought in to become a companion to the boy. They fall in love, part of the father's plan to subject the boy to "hell" at some future date. Instead the boy, three years later, murders his father and consequently ends up just as he might have had the original plan come to fruition. He spends his life thereafter trying to hide from the very fact that he has committed the ultimate crime and, at the same time, trying to protect the girl from evil.

The prose is as simple and straightforward as the tale is twisted. It is a far different effort from this author's previous novel, "The Thief," which also described an antihero, albeit of a different stripe. This book is a complicated crime novel with deep psychological undertones into the minds of warped persons. It is told in the first person by the protagonist as he endures the horrors to which he is subjected, yet demonstrating his efforts to overcome the onus of what he has done and his background.

4.0 out of 5 stars breadcrumbs 19 April 2014
By Glenn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Nakamura reveals a number of thoughts and feeling that are offered as normal for citizens of Japan. In contrasting these emotions with those of the cancer branch of the families he lends them normalcy, though they may seem unnatural to a blue collar U.S. reader. Additionally, he comments that redemption is available in the U.S. since the prevailing religion there grants forgiveness implying that the culture/religion of Japan does not. The humanity of the main character is certainly damaged yet, in comparison to the other cancers and shady characters it seems quite positive. The internal struggle of the main character earns the sympathy of the reader. In all a yarn that leaves one saddened and hopeful.
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