Lady Joker (Volume 1) by Kaoru Takamura

Lady Joker (Volume 1) by Kaoru Takamura

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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.


“Hinging on a kidnapping plot, Takamura’s prismatic heist novel offers a broad indictment of capitalist society.”The New York Times

Lady Joker] is a work you get immersed in, like a sprawling 19th century novel or a TV series like "The Wire." It reveals its world in rich polyphonic detail. Inspired by a real-life case, it takes us inside half a dozen main characters, follows scads of secondary ones and enters bars and boardrooms we could never otherwise go . . . Yet for all its digressions, Lady Joker casts a page-turning spell.”John Powers, NPR's Fresh Air

“Like Ellroy’s
American Tabloid and Carr’s The Alienist, the book uses crime as a prism to examine dynamic periods of social history . . . Takamura’s blistering indictment of capitalism, corporate corruption and the alienation felt by characters on both sides of the law from institutions they once believed would protect them resonates surprisingly with American culture.”Paula Woods, Los Angeles Times

“Hallelujah! Inspired by the real-life, still unsolved Glico-Morinaga kidnapping and extortion case that led to the nationwide hunt for 'The Monster with Twenty-one Faces,' Kaoru Takamura’s Lady Joker is at last available in translation; epic in its scale and vision, yet gripping from first to last, this is one of the great masterpieces of Japanese crime fiction and one of the must-read books of this or any year.”
David Peace, author of Tokyo Year Zero

Trade Paperback
Publisher: Soho Crime
ISBN: 978-1641293945
Pages: 600