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Who is Mr Satoshi? [Hardcover]

Jonathan Lee
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
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Book Description

1 July 2010

"One afternoon last October, on the concrete of her patio garden, my mother had a fall...That was the last time I really had any options."

Reclusive photographer Rob Fossick has come adrift both from society and his creative urge. But when his mother dies, Rob is suddenly presented with an unwanted yet intriguing problem to solve - minutes before her death, he discovers that she was hoping to deliver a package to an enigmatic character called Mr Satoshi, but the name and the contents of the parcel are shrouded in mystery.

So begins a quest that takes Rob out of his isolation and plunges him, anxious and unprepared, into the urban maelstrom of Tokyo. With the help of a colourful group of new acquaintances - an octogenarian amateur detective; a beautiful 'love hotel' receptionist; an ex-sumo wrestler obsessed with Dolly Parton - Rob edges closer to uncovering the mystery surrounding Mr Satoshi, and in the process comes face to face with some demons of his own.

Combining several interlocking mysteries - both past and present - Who is Mr Satoshi? is a uniquely inventive and unforgettable story of a fragile soul coming to terms with the fact that no one, in the end, is quite who they seem to be.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: William Heinemann; 1st ed edition (1 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0434020419
  • ISBN-13: 978-0434020416
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 22.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 573,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jonathan Lee was born in Surrey in 1981.

He graduated from the University of Bristol with a First in English Literature and then, after spending some time living in South America, went on to become a solicitor at a City law firm. In 2007 he was posted to the firm's Tokyo office, and during his time there became increasingly interested in Japanese culture and history.

On his return to London he began writing his acclaimed first novel, Who is Mr Satoshi? (William Heinemann). On publication in July 2010 Who Is Mr Satoshi? was called "elegant and incisive" (Observer), "confident, sharply written and refreshingly direct" (Independent), and "dream-like ... an unusual, clever and playful book" (Daily Mail).

Jonathan Lee's second novel is Joy (published by William Heinemann on 7 June 2012). Catherine O'Flynn, author of What Was Lost, has called it 'a brilliant book ... Jonathan Lee is one of those rare, agile writers who can take your breath away'.


Product Description


"Compelling, funny and beautifully written, this novel is one of those rare treats - a book you won't want to put down" (Jennie Rooney, author of INSIDE THE WHALE)

"Jonathan Lee paints an exhilarating portrait of modern day Tokyo in limpid, intelligent prose as we accompany his narrator along his wildly labyrinthine voyage through the city." (Chloe Aridjis)

"Funny and moving, Who Is Mr Satoshi? introduces another newcomer who will catch prize judges' attentions. Set in Japan, it concerns Rob Fossick, an English photographer who has been unable to work since his wife died. When his mother, too, is suddenly killed, he discovers she has left instructions that he must deliver a package to a mysterious Mr Satoshi in Tokyo. Lurching from crisis to crisis as he stumbles drunk and weeping through a strange culture, he engages the help of a pink-haired Japanese girl and a former sumo wrestler. Fossick (a great name for someone on a quest) eventually unravels a mystery stretching back to the time of the Allied occupation." (Giles Foden, author of THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND)

"an elegant and incisive examination of how history and our perceptions of the world are partial, filtered, and continually revised...Who is Mr Satoshi? ask[s] intriguing questions about how we see, remember and narrate our lives." (Observer)

"a lyrical page-turner" (Naomi Alderman)

Book Description

Inventive and mysterious, WHO IS MR SATOSHI? introduces a major new talent to contemporary fiction.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dream debut 15 Mar 2012
Warm and attractive, super-readable debut novel by Jonathan Lee (JL) about top photographer Rob Fossick (RF), whose life came to a standstill after the accidental death of his wife Chloe and their unborn child. Four years later, surviving on mind-soothing pills and royalties, RF sees his demented mother literally drop dead in front of him during a visit. Another mental blow.
Sorting out her belongings, RF finds intriguing letters, then remembers her talking about a Mr. Satoshi or Reggie, who should receive a certain parcel, which RF also finds.
Readers will enjoy this book full of paralyzing sorrow and RF's efforts to deliver the parcel to "Reggie" or Mr. Satoshi, who might be still alive (at 80) and still be living in Japan. Also, RF's photo agent wants him to return to his old form and sends him a ticket to Tokyo with an open return. What happens in Japan is a tale for readers to enjoy.
This is a search book. Its plot is smart, the novel rich in symbolism and metaphor, beautifully written with good dialogue. JL shifts gears every now and then, a rare pleasure. But it is the characters who really stand out: panic-prone RF, his mother in her young and final years, her long-time lady friend Freddie. The Japanese cast is well portrayed, esp. Chiyoko, the pink haired literature student/receptionist of a love hotel and its owner, a gay ex-sumo wrestler who idolizes Dolly Parton. In this novel even minor characters come alive.
Jonathan Lee's final gift is not telling all, leaving readers to ponder all possible outcomes. Eminently re-readable and discussable novel for book clubs. Hope Jonathan Lee will make writing his trade.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good read 7 Nov 2011
By Whatchamacallit TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was surprised to find that this is the first novel from Jonathan Lee as it reads so well, and I could easily have believed the author to be more accomplished. The story of one man's search to find his mother's lover following her death is actually far more amusing than it sounds, but at the same time it is very touching. I really enjoyed the interesting characters and it became a book that I looked forward to picking up again as it was easy to read and yet compelling at the same time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpectedly brilliant 9 Oct 2011
By Laura Smith VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I ordered this book as it is partly set in Japan, a country that holds great fascination for me. I didn't really know much else about the book, so I was very surprised to find such a great story. The main character, Rob, is vunerable and reclusive, having lost his pregnant wife some years back, and then suddenly losing his elderly mother. He's in a bad place and retiring into his shell. His mother has left behind a mystery package addressed to Mr Satoshi, which she wants him to deliver, and circumstances conspire to send him to Japan, where he searches for the elusive Mr Satoshi using clues from old leters of his mothers, whilst also trying to rediscover his photography mojo. In Japan, he meets Chiyoko, who takes him under her wing and helps in his search.
Not only a great story, but very touching and the way Rob deals with his grief and his problems is quite beautiful. I found this book to be moving and heartrending, whilst still being a great read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A New Voice in the World of Literature. 26 July 2011
By lovemurakami TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Who is Mr Satoshi? you may ask yourself and my answer would be why not give this debut novel a try, I somehow don't think you'll be disappointed in your purchase. For a debut novel, Jonathan Lee has produced a rather good modern piece of literature. There are moments of masterful writing and plotting (I'm not saying it's at this standard all of the way through) but this is an emotionally charged piece of writing.

It begins with Foss, a photographer who witnesses his mother's death and in it's wake he finds himself on a journey taking him from London to Japan but also on a journey of re-awakening for himself. When we meet him, Foss is an emotionally crippled man who depends upon drugs to get him through both waking and sleeping hours. His life has had some tragic moments and he has withdrawn from humanity in order to protect himself and to cut himself off emotionally. However, his mother leaves him a mission to complete which takes him to Tokyo and on doing this he is forced to connect again with the world.

The writing is strong, the plot works and as a reader you do achieve a connection with this emotional wreck of a character. If you love modern fiction, a great read or Japan, this is well worth reading, you can tell that Jonathan Lee is accustomed to Japan and its' people and there are some small references to how the country and its people are unique. Great read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping read, highly recommended 17 July 2011
This book instantly draws you into the world of the main character and in a way that makes you want to stay with him and not put the book down. The writing is rich and beautiful and even though the story is set on a sad premise it is has observational comedy throughout which had me laughing out loud.

Treat yourself to this is a book. It's one to be savoured and not rushed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and involving 26 Jun 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I enjoyed this book very much. It is very well written and has plenty of interesting things to say.

The story is of a traumatised and damaged man who finds a letter to "Mr Satoshi" after the death of his mother and is persuaded to go to Japan to try and find him and deliver the letter. Writing in the first person, Jonathan Lee manages to immerse us in this world and I think he is quietly insightful about his protagonist's response to trauma and psychiatric drugs. He tells a well-paced story full of believable, often likeable characters and generates a fine sense of mystery. I also thought that he was very insightful about the loss, melancholy, hope and redemption in human lives. Lee is also very skilful in painting a portrait of Japanese society. This forms a vivid and memorable backdrop to the story but is never intrusive and I never felt that he was lecturing or showing off how much he knew.

I found this book thoughtful, involving and memorable in spite of what I think is an off-putting title. Warmly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Was that it?
Descriptive but dull!! Not my cup of sake. Was expecting quite the shocking reveal but didn't happen!!! Flat characters indeed.
Published 3 months ago by Kimberley Louise John
4.0 out of 5 stars not without flaws, but really good
Robert Fossick, or just Foss, at the very beginning of the novel becomes a witness to his mother's stroke in the yard of her home. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Ray Garraty
1.0 out of 5 stars 'Lost in Translation' This Ain't
There was only one thing to truly like about this novel and it arrived on Page 275. The book itself ended on Page 295. It has taken me a month to read. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Jonathan Posner
4.0 out of 5 stars Who is Mr Satoshi?
Rob Fossick has withdrawn from the world after a tragic loss. After his Mother's death he re-engages with life gradually to try to deliver a parcel to a man known only as Mr... Read more
Published 13 months ago by catsatcastle
4.0 out of 5 stars A puzzle well worth solving.
This book is a very nicely written puzzle that touches on a number of issues, foremost amongst them how little we really know about our parents. Read more
Published 23 months ago by David Pearce
2.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing in parts
A British photographer, fighting a troubled past, finds himself drawn to Japan through a request left by his dead Mother. "Who is Mr Satoshi? Read more
Published on 19 Feb 2012 by Loved-IT
3.0 out of 5 stars Vanilla
Who is Mr Satoshi? I'm not sure I ever really cared, but for all the mystery that this novel would like to have, it seems to have been given away very early on. Read more
Published on 7 Dec 2011 by MisterHobgoblin
4.0 out of 5 stars Found in translation..
I took a chance on this book based purely on the title and description - it seemed like an interesting subject and raised it above a lot of the stock detective/serial... Read more
Published on 3 Oct 2011 by D. Gilman
3.0 out of 5 stars Quirky and charming in places, yet doesn't quite work
I started off really quite liking this book - it was quirky and charming, and the characters were quite comedic. Read more
Published on 2 Oct 2011 by Princess Mononoke
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
Let's get the one problem I had with it over first. Our chap, Foss, appears visiting his 80 year old mother. So I put him around 50. Read more
Published on 23 Sep 2011 by Mrs. R.
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