Taichi Yamada’s Strangers is a moody tale of loss and redemption, set in modern day Tokyo. Hideo is a recently divorced television writer, emotionally cut off from the world since the loss of his free-spirited parents in a motorcycle accident when he was only twelve years old. While wandering around his old neighborhood, he sees a man who looks exactly like his father in a comedy club – and the man doesn’t seem at all surprised when he follows him all the way home, to a woman who looks exactly like his mother. In fact, they seem to have been expecting him.
Are they strangers, or are they his parents? His new girlfriend – the only other person actually living in the noisy apartment building that most owners use as business space – warns him to stay away from them. And his colleague Mamiya appears terrified at the physical change in Hideo. But Hideo doesn’t notice any change at all.
He continues to see his parents, who seem not at all disconcerted to be so much younger than their son. But can they really be the kind people they appear to be?
This ghostly story sent shivers down my spine. And the only reason for the short review is that it would be a shame to give anything away. I loved Yamada’s writing style – the first-person narration is almost journalistic in its austerity, but still richly descriptive. I read fantastic reviews of this book from both The Parrish Lantern and Dolce Bellezza, two bloggers who tend to add to my TBR with their great recommendations, so I wasn’t at all surprised to enjoy the book. But I wasn’t really prepared for how powerfully this story resonated with me. I'd call this highly recommended for fans of Japanese literature and for those who love a good ghost story.
This one definitely turned up the peril-meter for my R.I.P. VI Reading, so thanks to Carl V of Stainless Steel Droppings for hosting. I’m kind of sad that October is coming to an end, but the reviews from this year’s challenge already have me thinking about next year! And this is also my second book for the Bellezza’s Japanese Literature Challenge 5 – I’m glad I’ll have some more time to work on that challenge when the semester winds down!