"... an amazing, imaginative adventure." -- Beverley Curran, The Daily Yomiuri
"Deliciously grotesque." -- Philadelphia Inquirer
"Devilish and brilliant." -- Oliver Stone, film maker
"Its power grabbed me by the heart." -- Banana Yoshimoto, author of Kitchen
"Startlingly hip, frighteningly inventive." -- Roger Corman, film maker
From the Publisher
AN EXCERPT FROM THE NOVEL
The Market was a four-lane highway that ran through a tunnel in the area. The guards had apparently been bought off so that the tunnel could serve as a ready link between customers on the outside and the services provided inside. The system seemed to work, since the stalls that lined the road were doing a brisk business--with one difference: the commerce was almost completely silent. Not a voice could be heard as buyers and sellers, whatever the commodity, conducted their transactions in whispers, their lips pressed against each other's ears. The street stalls were fairly rudimentary, just a table and some chairs set up along the side of the road where the customers sat down and waited for the prostitute in attendance--in some cases a woman, in others a man--to quietly bring them a drink. The list of drinks was simple: watered-down beer or a kind of sweet wine in dark bottles. The freelance whores lining the street advertised with creative postures but rarely went out of their way to approach a passing customer. The men, it seemed, had been there from the beginning, but the number of women had increased suddenly when the underground highway had opened. Now they lined the tunnel, leaning against the walls, smoking with one hand and hiking up their skirts with the other. One woman had got hers up further than the rest, and the silver ring embedded in the fleshy lips between her legs glittered in the ancient yellow fluorescent light. A black woman languidly sucked grapes from a bunch, skinning them deftly with her mouth and letting them roll on her tongue like green marbles. Her dress, split down the back to the top of her ass, barely covered the sour, velvet skin beneath. A young girl was dancing in the street in toeshoes tied with white ribbons. On her thigh was a tattoo of a hydrofoil, and around her neck she wore a snakeskin collar complete with leash. A pair of twins had been painted on her buttocks, one per cheek, and they seemed to be clutching the real, lighted candle protruding between them.
In addition to the women, the tunnel walls were lined with makeshift drugstores which dealt almost exclusively in tranquilizers, the non-addictive drug of choice for both the working girls and their customers. A tranquilizer called Neutro, in fact, could almost have been said to be the pillar on which the social system of The Market was built. It was Neutro that one had to thank for the placid whispers, the smooth conduct of commerce minus the usual irritations and problems. Under a Neutro-induced haze, activity along the subterranean road was reduced to mutters, sighs, and muffled coughs, the sound effects of a concert hall between the movements of a symphony. The Market was a circus with the soundtrack left off, a silent parade, a muted ballet with only a light ringing in the ears gently lulling the spectator into the general torpor. Not silence exactly, but an odd, noiseless noise, like rustling silk, or soft footsteps on wet concrete--like a tongue sucking at a gap between two teeth, or skin on skin, or clear sake being poured into a glass. The Market was a masked ball with only the sound of the feathers fluttering on a thousand strange costumes. Those who saw it for the first time invariably said they thought they had died and gone on to some other life.