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Sayonara, Gangsters Hardcover – 2 May 2007


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vertical Inc.; 1st American Ed edition (2 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932234055
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932234053
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 2.7 x 20.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 574,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By frank on 26 May 2011
Format: Hardcover
This one is an oddball...it's set in the near future, perhaps, but there's no real description of anything, and the first chapter pretty much explains what the rest of the novel is all about by saying that each person in this world is born nameless, and they only assume names when their lovers give them one.

Murakami ripped off a lot of this book in his `Hard boiled wonderland...' and made his name off it. The building that contains things it can't possibly contain, the name thing, the cats that talk...all written by Takahashi first. Of course, he wasn't the first ever to do it, but it really annoys when another writer gets credit for something that someone else has done better elsewhere.

Anyway, this book isn't perfect, there's nothing to really draw you in character-wise...you won't really know any of them well enough to care what happens to them, but that's kinda the point, I guess. The thing that will keep you reading is the bizarre invention on almost every page, and the short chapters that sometimes run to only a few lines.

And the gangsters, of course. They come in and out of it, but you're always wondering, what do they mean, what are they representing etc.? And, because this book is relatively unknown outside of Japan, there isn't much criticism available to explain everything to you, which means you're gonna have to figure it out for yourself. Or wait until someone else writes a book about it and tells you what to think.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 14 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
"Conventional wisdom has it that people who read novels..." 26 Oct 2004
By Jonathan E. Shapiro - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"...stop being able to make accurate judgments, you know."

Extremely strange, yet approachable novel about a poetry teacher who constantly frets over his lack of purpose in an insane world where everyone finds out when they're going to die and cats have favorite authors. It seems to be an anology for both modern writing and living in a police state. Like Kurt Vonnegut, Takahashi buries what may be a very personal story beneath lots of fantastic, "out there" elements. I enjoyed it, although this is definitely a "cult" book, and I don't see it appealing to mass audiences. Still, I'd love to see more works from the author get translated into English.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
amazing 14 April 2004
By "abraxxas" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
a collection of absurdist sketches and/or short meditations with almost no plot, few characters save the narrator, and endless references to milestones in literary history shouldn't really amount to an amazing novel. and yet genichiro does it, and effortlessly (aided no doubt by the excellent translation by michael emmerich; i am familiar with some of the original and translating this book is no easy feat). a super fast and intensely thought provoking read, crystal clear in its reserved ambiguity.
just read it.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
a definite must read 24 April 2004
By "gerasimo" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
i read this book last weekend, in one sitting. once you start, you won't want to put it down. and once you do put it down, it will stay with you for a long time, different parts echoing in your head. it's an incredibly funny book, but funny with pathos, threaded with an immense sadness. it's also incredibly timely, and very politically oriented in a wacky, all-over-the-place kind of a way. as jonathan safran foer says in his blurb on the back, it's a book that can't really be described. you just have to read it. i promise you won't regret it.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
WOW! 16 April 2004
By Leo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I have never read anything like this book, and I doubt I'll ever have a chance to read anything like it again---at least not until I go back and reread it. And I know I will. Many, many times.
Certain sections and scenes, especially in the second part, and the quirky/sad/hilarious/devastating language in which this book is written keep echoing through my head, so that I actually feel like carrying this book around with me to take out for a moment on the subway or in the elevator on my way up to the office. I want to have it on hand when I need it.
This is the kind of book I NEEDED right now. The whole thing with the "gangsters" and the speech by the President of the United States at the beginning and the feeling of despair at being unable to make things happen resonate with what we are going through right now in the US in a way that is absolutely eery and astonishing, considering that the book was first published in Japan in 1982.
I heard Takahashi read in March. I went on a whim because I saw the event listed in The Village Voice. And even though I couldn't understand his Japanese and had no idea WHAT he was saying until the translator, Michael Emmerich, read his English version (which is incredible!), I still GOT something out of the Japanese-language part of the program. I got the sense that THIS GUY IS THE REAL THING. His voice was tingling with energy. I don't know why it took so long for this book to be translated (maybe the right translator just never came along until now? I certainly have never read any translation like this), but I know that I want to read more. Right now this book is the only one available; fortunately, it's the sort of "novel" that will be completely new next time. If you still haven't had the fantastic, heart-wrenching, hilarious experience of reading it, order it. Right now. I promise you, it's just what you need.
If you were a friend of mine, I'd give you a copy of Sayonara, Gangsters. That's how good this book is.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
What a Trip! 15 Jan 2006
By Mouldy Pilgrim - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
To sum up the postmodern novel "Sayonara, Gangsters", all you need is one word: weird. Take a moment to think about all that is considered normal convention for novel writing, and you will have a good idea what this book is not.

First off, the author creates a weird world in which things that are impossible are not even looked at twice by characters. The world is a bizarre mix of science-fiction and someone's diary entries. Added to that, the weird items and people, (a classroom with a desert in it, a sixth floor with a river through it, etc), and you have a mind-warping book indeed.

Secondly, the layout breaks every convention I have known about in a novel. Sometimes, you will get a few lines on a page, and that is it. You also get some pictures, a bit of manga, a section that changes tenses, changes in font and typeface, a loss of paragraphs and so on. Not only that, the language is used in some very bizarre ways.

"Sayonara, Gangsters" is a book that will change with whoever reads it. The symbolism is heavy, and the meanings are not always apparent. The characters very rarely explain the symbolic meaning of things, except with Virgil the Fridge. Other elements may even just be there to shock you out of your mindset. One way or the other, the book is not as meaningless as has been claimed.

Finally, the humour in the book is enough to elicit a quiet snicker, but not the side-ripping laughter that one may hope for. Takahashi has an unusual knack for drawing the humorous out of the completely weird.

At the end of the book, I was left wondering if Genichiro Takahashi was a novelist genius or just a certified lunatic who just happened to find a wordprocessor. I am still not sure which, but I enjoyed the book. I am not sure I want to read it again, but the experience was worth a couple of hours. Tread with caution on this one, unless you are looking for something really out in the left field.
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