Book Talk: A murder in Japan--but who is the real villain?

Thu May 26, 2011 12:32pm EDT
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By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - A young woman is murdered on a lonely mountain road, a young construction worker arrested. But who is really responsible?

Little is as it first appears in "Villain," a noir look at life in rural Japan. The first book by award-winning author Shuichi Yoshida to be translated into English, it was recently made into a movie in Japan.

Yuichi, the shy and alienated suspect, cares for his ailing grandparents while Yoshino, the victim, was an amateur prostitute who lied about her dates with Keigo, a spoiled rich boy. Then there is Mitsuyo, an ordinary woman whose one act of daring is falling in love with Yuichi.

Yoshida, who confesses to loving noir films and Ernest Hemingway, talked to Reuters about his book.

Q: How did you come to write this?

A: "First of all, this was a one-year serial in a newspaper. Up until then, I'd written a lot of serials for literary magazines, but to have a daily one in a newspaper was new. Of course the number of people that read newspapers is really huge, so I had to think of something that would keep them reading. I thought of trying to write a crime novel, which was something I hadn't done before either.

"This would have suspense, which I thought would make them want to read every day. It may be a bit arrogant of me, but I also wanted to write something about humanity. I thought that if I portrayed the kind of life of a lot of different types of contemporary people, within a suspense format, that I'd probably get a lot of readers."

Q: There are many points of view in this book. Why?   Continued...

<p>Japan's award-winning author Shuichi Yoshida poses for a picture after an interview in Tokyo March 8, 2011. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon</p>