Wrong About Japan by Peter Carey - review by Francis King

Francis King

Drawing Conclusions

Wrong About Japan


Faber & Faber 158pp £12.99

This little book had its genesis at the moment when the author’s shy, unusually tall twelve-year-old son Charley told him, ‘When I grow up I’m going to live in Tokyo.’ What had attracted the boy to the country was not karate, sumo or kendo but a reading of English translations of Japanese comics, picked up in lower-Broadway stores packed with youths sporting green hair and staples in their heads. In the country of their origin, such comics are devoured not merely by the young but also, on rush-hour trains, by the sort of sober-suited businessmen who, in this country, would be reading the Daily Mail or the Telegraph. From manga (comic books), Charley’s interest then extended to anime (pronounced like the French animé), the animated films derived from them.

Drawn into his son’s obsession, Carey decided that, though these artefacts were often shallow and silly, they were none the less worthy of cultural investigation. So it came about that the pair eventually made a journey to Japan. Before setting off, Charley made a strict proviso: no real Japan, no

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

RLF - March

A Mirror - Westend

Follow Literary Review on Twitter