Fifty-six year old Shimura Kobo lives alone in the suburbs of Nagasaki. His life is relatively uneventful; he goes to work each day and avoids socialising with his colleagues. Then food starts to go missing. The once he could dismiss, but it keeps on happening. Who is in his home, helping themselves to his food?
Nagasaki is a short, but perfectly formed tale, a novella at 109 pages. It doesn’t need to be longer though, it’s a small, intimate story that would likely be damaged with padding. I’ve noticed the French seem much happier with shorter books and yes, it’s French, but somehow seems very Japanese in its telling.
It’s based on a story that ran in several Japanese newspapers and it does make you think. Our homes are our personal spaces, it’s understandable to want them free of intruders. But there’s also a sense of selfishness in the situation…it wasn’t really harming Shimura and there’s a sense of remorse as the story continues. We would like to think we would help those less fortunate in our communities, but when push comes to shove, how many of us do anything?
There’s a lot to think about and discuss which makes this the perfect book for book groups on busy months. Sometimes novellas feel a bit too brief, if ultimately enjoyable, but I don’t think you’d have that problem with Nagasaki.
Review copy provided by publisher.