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  • Published: 10 June 2021
  • ISBN: 9781616957018
  • Imprint: Soho Press
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 600
  • RRP: $50.00

Lady Joker, Volume 1




One of Japan’s great modern masters, Kaoru Takamura, makes her English-language debut with this two-volume publication of her magnum opus.

One of Japan’s great modern masters, Kaoru Takamura, makes her English-language debut with this two-volume publication of her magnum opus.

Tokyo, 1995. Five men meet at the racetrack every Sunday to bet on horses. They have little in common except a deep disaffection with their lives, but together they represent the social struggles and griefs of post-War Japan: a poorly socialized genius stuck working as a welder; a demoted detective with a chip on his shoulder; a Zainichi Korean banker sick of being ostracized for his race; a struggling single dad of a teenage girl with Down syndrome. The fifth man bringing them all together is an elderly drugstore owner grieving his grandson, who has died suspiciously after the revelation of a family connection with the segregated buraku community, historically subjected to severe discrimination.

Intent on revenge against a society that values corporate behemoths more than human life, the five conspirators decide to carry out a heist: kidnap the CEO of Japan’s largest beer conglomerate and extract blood money from the company’s corrupt financiers.

Inspired by the unsolved true-crime kidnapping case perpetrated by “the Monster with 21 Faces,” Lady Joker has become a cultural touchstone since its 1997 publication, acknowledged as the magnum opus by one of Japan’s literary masters, twice adapted for film and TV and often taught in high school and college classrooms.

  • Published: 10 June 2021
  • ISBN: 9781616957018
  • Imprint: Soho Press
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 600
  • RRP: $50.00

Praise for Lady Joker, Volume 1

Praise for Lady Joker “A novel that portrays with devastating immensity how those on the dark fringes of society can be consumed by the darkness of their own hearts.” —Yoko Ogawa, author of The Memory Police “Excellent . . . Takamura shows why she’s one of Japan’s most prominent mystery novelists.” Publishers Weekly, Starred Review “Takamura’s challenging, genre-confounding epic offers a sweeping view of contemporary Japan in all its complexity.” Kirkus Reviews “Centered around an extortion case involving a beer company, Lady Joker would ordinarily be categorized in the crime or mystery novel genre, yet the book deserves to be called an exemplary literary work that depicts contemporary society . . . A magnum opus . . . It requires extraordinary skill to fully depict the ambivalence of Japanese society, in all its detail. Reading Lady Joker together with James Ellroy’s American Tabloid and the drama behind the Kennedy assassination serves as an intriguing comparison. Viewing a society through the lens of a crime is like examining a disease or a corpse to get at the person: it exposes the foundations of human existence.” —Yomiuri Newspaper   “Using the relationship between individuals and institutions as its axis, Lady Joker attempts to depict the contemporary era in its entirety. The effort is so reckless as to be almost quixotic, but with her formidable literary talents, Kaoru Takamura accomplishes her goal to a handsome degree . . . Lady Joker is a multilayered novel that allows for many interpretations, yet its structure places it firmly within the framework of a social-awareness mystery.” —Shosetsu Subaru Literary Magazine A superb suspense novel with depth.” —Shukan Bunshun (The Literary Weekly) “Takamura’s eye for detail and storytelling prowess are astonishing . . . It’s possible to read Lady Joker in various ways—as a mystery novel, a police procedural, or a cautionary tale of corporate risk management. I read it as an exploration of the original sin of human existence . . . The depth of empathy readers will feel for this book’s characters directly corresponds with the author’s insight on the intersections of human existence.” —Ushio Magazine

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