Taichi Yamada’s In Search of a Distant Voice was published in Japanese in 1989, completing a trilogy of novels which includes the ghostly Strangers, published to acclaim in English last year. His third novel brings us another beguiling story of guilt and longing.
A group of immigration officers raid a house outside Tokyo one morning and a strange, possibly magical, event occurs. Tsuneo Kasama, a young immigration officer, is chasing a Bangladeshi man through a graveyard when a mysterious force freezes him to the spot. He then experiences an inexplicable rush of sexual ecstasy, ‘a gunshot of delicious sweetness’. It leaves him humiliated, confused and haunted.
Kasama is a typical young man of his generation in Japan, with a stressful job and a home in a company dormitory. His friends are his colleagues and his boss is the matchmaker behind his planned marriage. Work and home life are all one, and Kasama views arranged marriage as