Thursday, June 09, 2011

Review: In Search of a Distant Voice by Taichi Yamada

In Search of a Distant Voice

Kazama Tsuneo is an immigration officer in Tokyo, struggling to live a 'normal' life after an event that happened eight years previously, on the other side of the world, in Portland, Oregon. When he is seized one day by a strange emotional fit, his life threatens to spiral out of control. With his arranged marriage looming, his problems worsen following the emergence of a strange voice - a woman who is trying to contact him, but without ever quite revealing herself. Imbued with a beautiful, melancholy sense of longing, the story becomes a quest narrative in which Tsuneo desperately chases this woman, and the mystery behind what happened eight years earlier.

Pages: 183 pages (Paperback)
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Released: 2007

When I went to the library and came across this book, I wasn't sure what to make of it. It sounds like an interesting supernatural story, but I wanted Strangers to be the first book I read by Taichi Yamada.

Oh well.

I ended up getting the book in the end, but I do have some mixed feelings about it. The story is about Kasama Tsuneo and how he deals with his life as a immigrations officer. He struggles with feeling sorry for those he has to arrest, but goes through the motions because ultimately that is what you have to do.

When he starts hearing a voice in his head, it opens up feelings of what happened during his time in the States. Something that he feels responsible for and hasn't truly gotten over it.

The voice and Tsuneo begin conversing with each other and an awkward relationship starts to build. By the end of the novel, you do feel like something could happen between them, but alas the mystery woman who keeps talking to Tsuneo is never revealed.

Somehow, I expected this, but I still wish we found out.



This is a short book, only 188 pages so it won't take you long to read. It is very surreal and watching Tsuneo deal with this mysterious voice was entertaining to watch. He has a lot more patience that I do. I don't think I would have lasted that long with a voice that doesn't wish to be scene, or known, but wants to know all about you.

I also liked how Tsuneo and the reader wasn't sure if he was going crazy, or if the voice in his head was real. As we continue to read, we find out she's indeed real and does help him move on (in a sense) with his life and get over what happened in the States.

At the same time, Tsuneo helps the mystery woman not feel so lonely anymore. The more I think about this book, the more I feel like it was an interesting novel. I did feel annoyed by everyone at the end, but writing this review did help me make sense about what happened.

3.5 stars