From the Fatherland, with Love

Review of From the Fatherland, With Love, By Ryu Murakami, trans. Ralph McCarthy, Charles de Wolf and Ginny Tapley Takemori in The Independent

The “other” Murakami – Ryu, rather than the marginally older Haruki – is best known in the UK for short, sharp novels like In The Miso Soup and Audition, books that dig away at a contemporary Japanese culture obsessed with youth, sex and violence, and familiar to us through manga, anime and horror films.

From The Fatherland, With Love is a rather different proposition, a long and closely-written narrative about a fictional North Korean invasion of the Japanese island of Kyushu, in April 2011. It runs to over 600 pages, with multiple prologues, introductions and epilogues, and a six-page list of principal characters – the kind of thing you might expect from Tom Clancy or Frederick Forsyth. Indeed, it might best be described as a procedural thriller, with as much time spent on detailing events inside the military and government machines on both sides as on explosive action sequences, though there are those too.

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