11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A compelling and shocking read, totally engaging,
This review is from: From the Fatherland with Love (Hardcover)
From the Fatherland With Love is a vast novel (664 pages), written on an epic scale, an alternative reality novel describing the events surrounding the invasion of and economically bankrupt Japan by an opportunistic North Korea.
The year is 2010, but things are not quite how they are in today's world. Japan has gone into serious economic decline and nation can no longer afford social care, resulting in vast shanty towns constructed in city-parks. The public sector is the only employer offering real jobs, but security guards have to protect government workers from demonstrating crowds of less fortunate citizens. Criminal gangs are rife and the black-market flourishes.
The rest of the world has responded to the economic crisis by retreating into isolationism. America has a vast financial deficit and can no longer afford to act as the world's policeman. Instead it is pushing for security agreements with East Asian countries, even North Korea. Europe is concerned only with it's own boundaries and China and Russia no longer want to get involved with other nation's problems. Japan is effectively abandoned to its fate.
Seeing an opportunity to get revenge on its old enemy Japan, the North Korean government launch an audacious plot to invade Japan with a force of 150,000 troops, establishing a colony at least, possibly a complete take-over.
The novel focuses on several locations, each with its own cast of characters. In Tokyo we have groups of government ministers and crisis managers. In North Korea we meet senior party officials then travel with advance team commandos and expeditionary forces as they launch their invasion. The area of Japan targeted by the North Koreans is in and around the city of Fukuoka and here we engage with local government and media, a medical centre, various criminals and a renegade gang of Japanese youths who plan an elaborate counter-attack in response to the horrific events which happen on their territory.
Needless to say the book is at times brutal detailing for example interrogation sessions and fairly horrific criminal activity. But the brutality always appears in the context of the complex plot and it would be unrealistic of Murakami to gloss over the results of a military invasion being countered by a rebel rag-tag army.
This is a compelling and shocking read. During the 20th century we saw what happened when nations fell apart after world wars and revolutions, but there is something particularly disturbing about seeing what happens when the structures of the modern world fall apart because of firstly economic collapse and secondly a cruel invading force. Murkami writes at both the macro level (governments, miliatary leaders) and also at the micro level (citizens, health-care workers, criminal opportunists). He makes his vast cast of characters come alive on the page and as a reader I found myself swept along as the terrible plans of North Korea unfolded on the page.
This is altogether a fantastic read which presents a possible future which seems all too plausible in its effects if not the exact detail.