Villain, the first novel by Shuichi Yoshida to be translated into English, is the story of a murder: a tale of desperation set in desolate seaside towns, online chat rooms and love hotels.
January 6, 2002. The body of Yoshino, a female insurance saleswoman, is found at Mitsue Pass, an eery inland spot in the southernmost region of Japan, rumoured to be home to ghosts. A young construction worker, Yuichi, is soon arrested by the Nagasaki police on suspicion of strangling the victim.
As Yuichi and his lover try to elude the police, the events that led up to the murder and its aftermath unfold. Moving back and forth in time, we learn the stories of the victim, the murderer, and their families - stories in which both Japan's past and future are written, revealing the inner lives of men and women who are not everything they appear to be.
Villain depicts loneliness and alienation in contemporary Japan more searingly than ever before. Part police procedural, part dirty realism, Shuichi Yoshida's drama pushes his characters to the razor's edge of despair.
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Thrilling ... The sort of book that is difficult to put down ... [Villain] lays out a panorama of modern Japanese society, a patchwork composed of people of various classes and occupations ... A modern literary achievement the like of which is rarely seen - Japan Book News
Hypnotizing . . . While the unfolding mystery holds our interest, Yoshida is really most concerned with exploring the alienation of his young characters and the lack of connective tissue between them. As the story takes a surprising turn toward the end, the author saves the biggest question for his readers: Who is the real villain: a killer who feels remorse, or a person who feels nothing at all? - Booklist
Yoshida examines the lives of a victim and a killer in this subtle but powerful novel about collective guilt and individual atonement, his first book to appear in English translation . . . Multiple points of view reveal both slight and dramatic changes in a host of other people, including acquaintances and relatives, affected by the murder. Most impressively, Yoshida's complex portrait of Japanese society leaves no doubt as to his characters' actions, but tantalizing doubts about their meaning. - Publishers Weekly
Shuichi Yoshida was born in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1968. He is the author of numerous books and has won many Japanese literary awards, including the Akutayawa Prize for Park Life, and the prestigious Osaragi Jiro Prize and the Mainichi Publishing Culture Award, both of which he received for Villain. Several of his stories have been adapted for Japanese television, and a film based on Villain is due to be released in 2010 in Japan as Akunin. Yoshida lives in Tokyo.