Books Of The Year #7: Villain

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December 3, 2011 by markstani

The spare, stripped-back prose of Shuichi Yoshida’s Villain (pub. Harvill Secker) perfectly mirrors the soulless, desolate landscape in which he has set his latest, super-modern Japanese thriller. In a Japan of love motels and lighthouses, a young student is murdered and the man who might be her killer is on the run. Lent zest by flashbacks and constantly changing narrative perspectives, Villain – longlisted for the 2011 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize – is a riveting read.

Mitsuse Pass has always had ghostly, otherworldly stories connected to it. In the beginning of the Edo period it was rumoured to be a hideout for robbers. In the mid-1920s rumour had it that someone murdered seven women in Kitagata township in Saga Prefecture and escaped to the pass. More recently the pass had become infamous as the place where, so the story goes, someone staying at a nearby inn went crazy and killed another guest.

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