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Sommer mit Fremden

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Faszinierend und geheimnisvoll Als seine Ehe zerbricht, gerät der einst erfolgreiche Drehbuchautor Harada in eine tiefe Krise. Er zieht sich immer tiefer in eine selbst gewählte Einsamkeit zurück und grübelt über sein Leben nach. Da erfasst ihn plötzlich das beklemmende Gefühl, dass er die Kontrolle über die Realität zunehmend verliert. Ist es möglich, dass er seinen längs Faszinierend und geheimnisvoll Als seine Ehe zerbricht, gerät der einst erfolgreiche Drehbuchautor Harada in eine tiefe Krise. Er zieht sich immer tiefer in eine selbst gewählte Einsamkeit zurück und grübelt über sein Leben nach. Da erfasst ihn plötzlich das beklemmende Gefühl, dass er die Kontrolle über die Realität zunehmend verliert. Ist es möglich, dass er seinen längst verstorbenen Eltern wiederbegegnet ist? Und was hat es mit seiner mysteriösen Geliebten auf sich, deren merkwürdiges Verhalten ihn vor ein Rätsel stellt? Unmerklich gerät Harada in einen gefährlichen Sog, der ihn beinahe das Leben kostet …


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Faszinierend und geheimnisvoll Als seine Ehe zerbricht, gerät der einst erfolgreiche Drehbuchautor Harada in eine tiefe Krise. Er zieht sich immer tiefer in eine selbst gewählte Einsamkeit zurück und grübelt über sein Leben nach. Da erfasst ihn plötzlich das beklemmende Gefühl, dass er die Kontrolle über die Realität zunehmend verliert. Ist es möglich, dass er seinen längs Faszinierend und geheimnisvoll Als seine Ehe zerbricht, gerät der einst erfolgreiche Drehbuchautor Harada in eine tiefe Krise. Er zieht sich immer tiefer in eine selbst gewählte Einsamkeit zurück und grübelt über sein Leben nach. Da erfasst ihn plötzlich das beklemmende Gefühl, dass er die Kontrolle über die Realität zunehmend verliert. Ist es möglich, dass er seinen längst verstorbenen Eltern wiederbegegnet ist? Und was hat es mit seiner mysteriösen Geliebten auf sich, deren merkwürdiges Verhalten ihn vor ein Rätsel stellt? Unmerklich gerät Harada in einen gefährlichen Sog, der ihn beinahe das Leben kostet …

30 review for Sommer mit Fremden

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca McNutt

    Strangers falls straight into the vein of many modern-day horror films, from 2005's Dark Water to 2012's Sinister, capturing perfectly the enigma of the supernatural in an urban environment. It did seem to have an inconsistent pace at times and start to get a bit repetitive, but I really liked it, anyway. I especially enjoyed the author's talent for capturing a good balance between drama and horror without getting particularly gory, obscene or morbid. It's a great book for fans of horror who lik Strangers falls straight into the vein of many modern-day horror films, from 2005's Dark Water to 2012's Sinister, capturing perfectly the enigma of the supernatural in an urban environment. It did seem to have an inconsistent pace at times and start to get a bit repetitive, but I really liked it, anyway. I especially enjoyed the author's talent for capturing a good balance between drama and horror without getting particularly gory, obscene or morbid. It's a great book for fans of horror who like some lighter-sided stuff mixed into the spookiness of their books.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Fern

    lovely atmospherics in this japanese ghost story that is more elegaic than shocking. well at least till the denouement. yamada was a scriptwriter. so he really knows how to grab your attention. and there's a great portrait of the mind of a salaryman too.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    Very brief, this reads quickly & it is easy to read as well. If, like myself, you are a fan of Japanese ghost stories, you're going to see the end coming on this one right away so that kind of spoiled it for me, because this story is very much in line with the old traditional type of ghostly tale from Japan. A brief summary: Harada-san (Hideo) is in his mid 40s, is a scriptwriter for television who isn't working all that much any more and lives alone, having been recently divorced and never t Very brief, this reads quickly & it is easy to read as well. If, like myself, you are a fan of Japanese ghost stories, you're going to see the end coming on this one right away so that kind of spoiled it for me, because this story is very much in line with the old traditional type of ghostly tale from Japan. A brief summary: Harada-san (Hideo) is in his mid 40s, is a scriptwriter for television who isn't working all that much any more and lives alone, having been recently divorced and never taking enough time to see his college-age son. He lives in Tokyo, in an apartment which is an office building by day but which during the night has maybe one or two lit windows that one can see from the outside. He is just a drab little man with a blah life. Many years ago, when he just a boy (I think he was 12), he was waiting for his parents to return home but they never did. His mom and dad were doubled on a bike when they were hit from behind in a hit-and-run accident. He was sent to live with his grandmother, but then she died, then sent to live with his uncle, who sent him to college and then died. Well, as it turns out, one day it was Hideo's birthday and he got a bee in his bonnet to go to his birthplace of Akasuka. When he arrived, he walked into a mediocre comedy club pretty much kept going by tour bus crowds, and there he saw a man that looked just like his father. It looked so much like his dad that he couldn't help but to keep looking at the guy. At the end of the performance, the strange man invited Harada-san to come home with him for a beer so Hideo goes. When he arrives, the strange man's wife is there and she is the spitting image of his mother. From there, the tale gets stranger and stranger and Hideo Harada finds himself in great danger from the other side. I liked this book. Again, it was somewhat stilted and formalized in translation but that's easily overcome. The dialogue sometimes was kind of silly, with little annoying things like money being called "dough" etc which seems out of context in the story. Kind of simplistic in tone, although it does delve into the whole search of self by Harada-san and why he feels like he must continue to see his "parents." Harada is a very tragic figure to begin with, and by the end of the book I was really pulling for him. When a book does that for me, then it's a good read. Overall recommended, but don't look for something along the lines of a Noel Hynd or James Herbert type of ghost...the Japanese really have a great way of ghost story telling and this book fits into the tradition. If you are interested in Japanese ghost stories, check out those written by Lafcadio Hearn. You will so not be sorry.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ray

    This is a strange little book. The protagonist, Harada, is a middle aged screenwriter, orphaned aged twelve when his parents are killed in a traffic accident. Recently divorced, he throws himself into his work. He is tired and lonely. Then he meets a man who looks and sounds just like his father, and whose wife looks and sounds like his mother. They even call him son. But they are in their early thirties, the age his parents were when they died. This cannot be right. He also starts a relationship This is a strange little book. The protagonist, Harada, is a middle aged screenwriter, orphaned aged twelve when his parents are killed in a traffic accident. Recently divorced, he throws himself into his work. He is tired and lonely. Then he meets a man who looks and sounds just like his father, and whose wife looks and sounds like his mother. They even call him son. But they are in their early thirties, the age his parents were when they died. This cannot be right. He also starts a relationship with a woman from the same apartment block. She notices that Harada is ageing rapidly, as if the "parents" are sucking the life out of him. Friends and acquaintances also ask him if he is OK. However when he looks into the mirror he cannot see it. How to get out of this? He loves spending time with his parents but what if they are killing him? But is it the parents? Cue unmasking of a succubus and rescue by friend cum ex wifes boyfriend As I said strange book, mildly entertaining in a what the hell next kind of way.

  5. 4 out of 5

    David

    The people in Harada's life are ghosts, and the ghosts in his life are people. It's actually pretty cute. The stuff with the parents was adorable, and I liked the reveal at the end. I wasn't sure about the translation of the Dad's dialogue... it's all "Whadja expect?" and "Okey-dokey". Too "Dick Van Dyke in 'Mary Poppins'" for me.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    When one is accustomed to the trends of American fantasy novels, it's a refreshing shock to the system to come across a clean, spare little book like Taichi Yamada's Strangers. The blurbs on the cover call it a "ghost story"; it is exactly that, delivered without pretention and with a classic sort of eerieness that hearkens back to The Twilight Zone and even farther, with echoes of mythic tales of what one must and must not do when encountering the dead. Hideo Harada is a middle-aged TV scriptwri When one is accustomed to the trends of American fantasy novels, it's a refreshing shock to the system to come across a clean, spare little book like Taichi Yamada's Strangers. The blurbs on the cover call it a "ghost story"; it is exactly that, delivered without pretention and with a classic sort of eerieness that hearkens back to The Twilight Zone and even farther, with echoes of mythic tales of what one must and must not do when encountering the dead. Hideo Harada is a middle-aged TV scriptwriter in Tokyo who has just suffered through a divorce. In an attempt to regain emotional stability in his life, he returns to the neighborhood where he'd grown up--and encounters a strange couple who appear to be his parents, exactly as they were the year they died, when he was twelve years of age. In the hands of another writer (many American horror writers come to mind), things would get overtly creepy very fast, but Yamada is more subtle than that. He lets the eerie flavor of his prose build slowly through the plot, and saves the payoff for the final few pages. Having just visited Tokyo in the time of year in which this story was set and having recognized some of the place names as train stops during my stay, I found the novel particularly effective. Readers unfamiliar with Tokyo won't have that edge, but I don't think that'll be a detriment to enjoyment in the slightest. Four stars.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rhodri

    As much as I wanted this book to work I have to admit that it doesn't deserve more than an average rating. Perhaps something was lost in the translation, but the narrator's musings were heavyhanded and denied the reader any sense of involvement in the book. You were told how things were and that was that. In the moments when the writer decided to let you read the story, and not the narrator's view on matters, there were some genuinely moving moments, but these were too few and far between, which As much as I wanted this book to work I have to admit that it doesn't deserve more than an average rating. Perhaps something was lost in the translation, but the narrator's musings were heavyhanded and denied the reader any sense of involvement in the book. You were told how things were and that was that. In the moments when the writer decided to let you read the story, and not the narrator's view on matters, there were some genuinely moving moments, but these were too few and far between, which was a great shame, as there were signs that the book could have been far better than it was.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Parrish Lantern

    When you meet someone for the first time, there's a formality to it, like a polite introduction.This is usually followed by a period of time where you size each other up. Am I going to like this individual, what have we in common, is there enough interest for me to put in the effort? Whether conscious of this or not, we are checking each other out ,but every now & then someone comes along that cuts right through that. Beyond the slight introduction, which you're already laughing at, because When you meet someone for the first time, there's a formality to it, like a polite introduction.This is usually followed by a period of time where you size each other up. Am I going to like this individual, what have we in common, is there enough interest for me to put in the effort? Whether conscious of this or not, we are checking each other out ,but every now & then someone comes along that cuts right through that. Beyond the slight introduction, which you're already laughing at, because you've known each other "for like ever", the bond is instant & concrete, I believe this is the same with books/authors. Some you've been introduced to & the bond's good, a slight formality, but in a short period of time your friends. Others, no matter the effort, no matter who introduces you - you will never bond.Then there's the one. You pick the book up, turn the page & it's like coming home, you knows this person, you understand "you get them". Right now I am sat here with an old friend - Caol Ila (single malt whisky), contemplating what to write about a new friend. Strangers by Taichi Yamada. Within a page I was in. Within 5 pages I was accessing the on line library to order any other books of his. A synopsis of the story is middle aged man is divorced & sets up home in his office. One night feeling nostalgic he visits his old district of Asukusa and there meets a likeable old man who looks just like his long dead father. So begins his ordeal. David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas) said "highly recommended, a cerebral haunting ghost story" & Bret Easton Ellis describes this as "an eerie ghost story written with hypnotic clarity, intelligent & haunting with passages of acute psychological insight into the relationship between children & parents". Strangers is a stunning book. It has moments of sheer beauty with an insidious, underlying fear. This book deals with subjects such as memory, loss & the need for human touch.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Fatima Mohamady ..

    يحدث أن يحتاج الإنسان من وقت لآخر لوقفة أمام نافذة مفتوحة، تعيد شيئاً من النور لعالمه فتبدد وحشته وشيئاً من العتمة .. لكن يحدث أيضاً أن تكون هذه النافذة في حقيقتها دوامة لعالم آخر، رمال متحركة يغرق فيها الإنسان بغير علم، فيتحول المنفذ الموهوم إلى سجن نضيع في غياهبه إن لم نجد من ينتشلنا منه بصفع الحقيقة في وجوهنا .. هذا ما كان البطل آيل إليه، شعور بالألفة والأنس،في هروب لا واعٍ من الوحدة.. وفرصة لتدارك قطار مضى بالأحبة إلى غير رجعة !! .. لكن ماذا لو أن الأقدار تعوضنا عن ما سلبتنا إياه ونظننا نستحقه يحدث أن يحتاج الإنسان من وقت لآخر لوقفة أمام نافذة مفتوحة، تعيد شيئاً من النور لعالمه فتبدد وحشته وشيئاً من العتمة .. لكن يحدث أيضاً أن تكون هذه النافذة في حقيقتها دوامة لعالم آخر، رمال متحركة يغرق فيها الإنسان بغير علم، فيتحول المنفذ الموهوم إلى سجن نضيع في غياهبه إن لم نجد من ينتشلنا منه بصفع الحقيقة في وجوهنا .. هذا ما كان البطل آيل إليه، شعور بالألفة والأنس،في هروب لا واعٍ من الوحدة.. وفرصة لتدارك قطار مضى بالأحبة إلى غير رجعة !! .. لكن ماذا لو أن الأقدار تعوضنا عن ما سلبتنا إياه ونظننا نستحقه ؟!.. لو أن الحياة تكرمنا بفرصة ثانية؟! ننساق لحلاوة ندائها الكاذب برغم معرفتنا أنا لن ننال منها أكثر مما يطاله الظمآن في إثر السراب .. الفقد والحسرة الباقية في الإنسان على ماض لا يفارقه مهما مضى ،والحيرة بين وحدة متآلفة وصحبة مرغوبة، هذه وغيرها تستحوذ على الإنسان لتحوله لفريسة سهلة لشيء ستحاول تتبعه وكشف كنهه في هذا العمل .. لم أفهم عرض الكاتب لكل شيء بهذا القدر من الوضوح والتسلسل السلس للأحداث، يدا الأمر بحاجة لشيء من الغموض أو التشويق لإحكام الحبكة .. وبرغم ذلك فالعمل حاصل على تقييم مرتفع خارج الوطن العربي، بينما التقييمات للنسخة المترجمة شحيحة جداً وهو ما أضفى على قراءتها متعة خاصة ..

  10. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    I was very disappointed by this book, the premise was interesting and I started expecting good things. The author was a TV scriptwriter before turning his hand to novels - and Strangers reads like mediocre TV drama. The dialogue was terrible, I cringed at every line and the twist in the tale was far too obvious. I may be being unfair, I think the biggest problem with the book was the translation, the clunkiest I've read in a long time.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sabrina

    A beautifully written ghost story. The end felt a little rushed for me, but contemplative and gorgeous prose made up for it all.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Strangers is an odd little book and isn’t my usual fare because it involves ghosts. Fortunately there was more to it than the spectral element. Hideo Harada is a middle-aged television scriptwriter who has recently been divorced. The separation was costly and he can’t afford to buy a decent apartment so he sets up home in his office in a high-rise apartment block overlooking Tokyo’s busy Route 8. At night when all the office workers leave, silence descends on the building. He thinks he is the onl Strangers is an odd little book and isn’t my usual fare because it involves ghosts. Fortunately there was more to it than the spectral element. Hideo Harada is a middle-aged television scriptwriter who has recently been divorced. The separation was costly and he can’t afford to buy a decent apartment so he sets up home in his office in a high-rise apartment block overlooking Tokyo’s busy Route 8. At night when all the office workers leave, silence descends on the building. He thinks he is the only person in the place but one evening looking up at his building from the outside, he sees one other lit window. A few days later Kei, an attractive woman fifteen years his junior shows up at his apartment with a bottle of champagne in hand. On the night of his birthday, hit by a wave of nostalgia, he visits the entertainment district of Asakusa where he grew up. His parents died many years ago, killed in a road accident when he was 12 and they were in their mid thirties. In the old and now run-down streets he goes to the theatre where he sees a mediocre comedian. In the audience he is astonished to see a man who looks exactly like his long-dead sushi chef father. Invited for drinks at the man’s home, Harada is even more astounded to find that the wife looks exactly like his dead mother. They’re the same age as his parents were when they died. How can that be possible he wonders? There is only one possible explanation he concludes – they are an hallucination caused by his solitude and grief. He thought he’d buried his grief for his parents but seeing them makes him realise that “Somewhere deep inside of me I had been yearning desperately for the warm embrace of parental love. It’s that yearning that compels him to make return visits. Every time he does so, he feels bathed in the warmth of their welcome and their easy acceptance of him. Over the course of a few visits he relaxes enough to begin calling them Mom and Dad, finding a deep pleasure in their company and the opportunity to re-live happy childhood experiences as well as make up for lost time. Kei isn’t convinced his trips to Asakusa are good for his health. She sees Heido changing day-by-day, becoming hollow-eyed, aged and emaciated. She’s even more worried because Heido himself cannot see these changes – when he looks at himself in the mirror he looks as healthy as ever. Can Kei save him from the ghosts of his past? Or is his desire to make up for the lost years of his relationship with his parents too strong to resist? related in a pared-down prose style that matches well with Harada’s spartan life. He’s doesn’t seem to have any friends, he has lost touch with his only son and has no interest other than working on the script for a new series. Understandable therefore that he feels the pull towards this other surreal world. It’s an engaging story that has a satisfying twist at the end. The supernatural elements don’t stand up to much scrutiny but I was more taken by the way Yamada deals with the psychological aspects. He deftly portrays the conflict Hideo experiences for example. He is elated when he meets his ‘parents’ and is eager to be well regarded in their eyes. He desperately wants them to be proud of the man he has become so he takes them treats of cookies and fresh melon and orders in special delicacies for their meals together to show he can afford to do so. But he is also afraid that his girlfriend might be right: his dead parents are sucking the life out of him. No matter how free of malice and mischief my parents’ intentions might be, there could be no denying that they had long since passed into the world of the dead. The return of the dead fundamentally undermines the order of the living and I wholeheartedly shared Kei’s conviction that contact with such beings was something to be avoided. Yet when it concerned my own mother and father, I could not bring myself to think of them as an evil to be fought. Unfortunately Yamada hasn’t been well served by the translation. Some of the dialogue between Harada and his parents struck me as incongruous. Would a man who lived in the 1940s really use the greeting “Yo” for example or tell his son “Put ‘er there” when he wants to shake hands? His interactions with his son – it’s all “Whadja expect?” and “Okey-dokey” – struck too many false notes for me. I know the intent was to show how relaxed the man is with his son but Japanese idioms would have worked far bettr than these American English expressions. If you can ignore that then the book works fairly well as a story of uncanny events that is laden with atmosphere and a psychological portrait of a man who is emotionally starved.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    A mother and father in their thirties with a 48-year-old son could not be of the real world, of course, but if an imagined world could allow such a relationship to exist, then I was ready to embrace that world. The terror I’d felt before was gone; floating before me were my parents’ joyful smiles welcoming me into their home. *** Harada is a television screenwriter living in Tokyo. He is divorced, estranged from his son, and his best friend and working partner has dissolved their relationship to p A mother and father in their thirties with a 48-year-old son could not be of the real world, of course, but if an imagined world could allow such a relationship to exist, then I was ready to embrace that world. The terror I’d felt before was gone; floating before me were my parents’ joyful smiles welcoming me into their home. *** Harada is a television screenwriter living in Tokyo. He is divorced, estranged from his son, and his best friend and working partner has dissolved their relationship to pursue Harada’s ex-wife. One day, shortly after meeting what may or may not be the only other person living in his apartment complex—an intriguing young woman named Kei—Harada meets a man at a comedy club. The man is a doppelganger of his father, who passed when Harada was 12. Following this man, Harada is taken deep into his past, where he inexplicably comes face to face with his parents, 36 years after their deaths. A lot of ghost stories tend to iterate on the theme of being “incomplete”; there’s a hole in the protagonist that can only be filled through exploring of their past, which when translated into an identifiable form or conflict, usually involves a visit from a ghost(s). Strangers is no different in this regard. What Yamada does differently, however, is that he extends the reach of his ghosts into the creation of neighbourhoods that no longer exist, giving his apparitions a real-world presence that others can interact with; he allows the ghostly remains of Harada’s parents to physically alter the subject of their haunting—in this case, Harada himself, who is slowly wasting away, dissolving into a wraith of nothing more than skin and bones. We’re forced to witness Harada’s pain as he finds such joy in being reunited with his parents after so many years alone, though by giving himself over to their otherworldly love, he allows himself to fall apart, to become a shade of a man on the verge of death. He cannot see the withering effect their presence is having on his life. It is only through a developing relationship with Kei that he can finally see how thin he has become, how lifeless and emaciated he appears to the world. The happiness he is forced to abandon to save his own life, and the struggle he faces to come to this decision, is certainly evocative of any sort of life-altering addiction. What Harada is addicted to is feeling whole again, for the first time since he was 12. The hole in his heart was one that neither marriage, nor success, nor friendship, nor the birth of his own child could satiate. Finally able to fill that hole gives Harada a sense of joy unlike anything he’s felt, though the feeling of unity he experiences with his parents is paralleled by what he is giving up in the present to come to terms with his past. Yamada structures the relationship between Harada, his parents, and Kei as a devotion triangle, with Harada in the middle, deciding which world he wants to give himself over to. But as he makes his decision, a larger one looms in the background: does he continue to rely on others to satisfy what’s lacking in his life, or will Harada find enough strength in the journey to fill the hole in his heart on his own? Strangers is what a ghost story should be—meditative, unpredictable, and emotionally charged. The stakes are life and death masked as happiness and loss, but which option is preferable is an answer the reader is never guided to with complete certainty.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne (Chick with Books) Yester

    A Japanese Ghost Story that will Haunt you... One of the things I love about the Japanese Literature I've discovered this year is its ability to weave the present day with the spirits of the past so matter of fact. Spirits are accepted as existing. Strangers by Taichi Yamada is such a story. It's a ghost story, but more than that. There is an underlying layer that makes this a much more complex story, one that will have you questioning your own heart... Imagine meeting your parents when they are a A Japanese Ghost Story that will Haunt you... One of the things I love about the Japanese Literature I've discovered this year is its ability to weave the present day with the spirits of the past so matter of fact. Spirits are accepted as existing. Strangers by Taichi Yamada is such a story. It's a ghost story, but more than that. There is an underlying layer that makes this a much more complex story, one that will have you questioning your own heart... Imagine meeting your parents when they are a young married couple... The exact age they were the last time you saw them... That is what happens to our main character, Harada, who is 47, recently divorced and pretty jaded. His parents were killed in an automobile accident when he was 12, and he was raised by his grandfather. One night he is compelled to visit the part of Tokyo where he grew up. He visits a theatre there, where he meets a man that looks exactly like his long-dead father... He can't believe his eyes, but he is compelled and soon obsessed to find out who this man is... How could you not be curious? And then as Harada is invited to the man's home and meets his wife, who just so happens to look just like his dead mother, how can you not be compelled to stay... even if you know none of this can be real. Or is real? Taichi Tamada's prose is sparse but moving. He slowly builds the story around Harada, painting the story with a lost love & his divorce, new love, a demanding job, a son who has distanced himself from his father Harada after his parents divorce, and a strange building where Harada lives now. But it also is a story about the love one has for ones parents. As Harada deals with life as we all know it, there is this other surreal world that is wrapping itself around him, pulling him away from everything else. But how can Harada resist the love of his parents that he was cheated from as a small boy... The story is simply wonderful, with unexpected twists and turns that bring the story to a wonderful ending. It will haunt you after the last page... I read this book is part of my Japanese Literature Challenge, which ends at the end of this month. I really enjoyed this book! What looked to be a simple story was not, and because of that it kept me turning the pages. Not to mention that Taichi Yamada writes well. It's a great introduction to Japanese Literature if you haven't read any yet, and at only 203 pages it's a reasonable time investment!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    I bought this for research. It is not my usual fare. It features a solitary script-writer living alone in a tower block which seems to house only him and a young woman. One night the man, suffering from a bout of nostalgia, visits the part of the city where he was brought up only to run into a man who seems identical to his father. In time he meets the man's wife and he is not surprised to find she looks like his mother. Visiting them, as he finds himself compelled to do, takes its toll on his h I bought this for research. It is not my usual fare. It features a solitary script-writer living alone in a tower block which seems to house only him and a young woman. One night the man, suffering from a bout of nostalgia, visits the part of the city where he was brought up only to run into a man who seems identical to his father. In time he meets the man's wife and he is not surprised to find she looks like his mother. Visiting them, as he finds himself compelled to do, takes its toll on his health, at least it seems that they are draining him. It is an interesting dilema and quite captivated me. The other story - hard to know which of the two is the back-story - is not as interesting and that's where the climax of the book rests.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lolakay

    I finished Strangers a few days ago. Odd little book. It basically reads like a bad Japanese horror movie. (Think The Eye, which is actually Chinese.) The amazing plot twist at the end is pretty obvious at the beginning, but it's fun as a ghost story. The narration (or maybe the translation) is a bit stilted at points, but some of the scenes, where the protagonist meets up with his dead parents, who are 'living' in a nearby Tokyo neighborhood, are kind of touching. Anyway, this book gave me craz I finished Strangers a few days ago. Odd little book. It basically reads like a bad Japanese horror movie. (Think The Eye, which is actually Chinese.) The amazing plot twist at the end is pretty obvious at the beginning, but it's fun as a ghost story. The narration (or maybe the translation) is a bit stilted at points, but some of the scenes, where the protagonist meets up with his dead parents, who are 'living' in a nearby Tokyo neighborhood, are kind of touching. Anyway, this book gave me crazy dreams the handful of nights I read it before going to bed.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    Beautiful writing. I could have done without the twist at the end though.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Yuriy Gritsay

    Прекрасный образец японского короткого романа. Присутствует и мистическая сторона и хорошо описанный быт среднего жителя моего любимого мегалополиса...

  19. 4 out of 5

    مريم القروص maryamhq

    الكتاب الذي لن تغمض كل حواسك وأنت تقرأه

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kaisu

    Das ist ein Buch, dem es sicher gut getan hätte, es im Original zu lesen. Aber leider bin ich des japanischen nicht mächtig. Kritik folgt im Januar

  21. 5 out of 5

    Surymae

    ...Ecco qui un altro libro da aggiungere alla lista "romanzi che se fossero stati più X e meno Y sarebbero potuti essere capolavori". Due cose fatte diversamente, infatti, avrebbero salvato "Estranei" da questa ignominosa lista. La prima: lo stile di scrittura. Possibile che gli autori giapponesi scrivano sempre alla stessa maniera? Li scrivono con il pilota automatico? O non esistono scrittori giapponesi, bensì un super computer che elabora di volta in volta i romanzi? Ma soprattutto: possibile ...Ecco qui un altro libro da aggiungere alla lista "romanzi che se fossero stati più X e meno Y sarebbero potuti essere capolavori". Due cose fatte diversamente, infatti, avrebbero salvato "Estranei" da questa ignominosa lista. La prima: lo stile di scrittura. Possibile che gli autori giapponesi scrivano sempre alla stessa maniera? Li scrivono con il pilota automatico? O non esistono scrittori giapponesi, bensì un super computer che elabora di volta in volta i romanzi? Ma soprattutto: possibile che questa sopraccitata stessa maniera sia sempre quella meno utile e più dannosa per la storia narrata? Questo tipo di scrittura - il cui più grande esponente è, forse, Haruki Murakami - non sembra, infatti, funzionare per nessuna trama. Come potrebbe, del resto? Si preferisce una prima persona che non dà nessuna sensazione ad un elegante terza persona, che forse potrebbe trasmettere un po' di pathos in più. E sì che la prima persona dovrebbe essere scelta proprio per favorire al massimo l'identificazione del lettore nel personaggio... non si può proprio dire, in questi casi, che ci si riesca. Altra regola non scritta: si mostra quando si dovrebbe raccontare e si racconta quando si dovrebbe mostrare. La conseguenza logica di ciò è che così il lettore si sorbisce pagine e pagine di quisquilie, ma pochissime righe di quello che veramente potrebbe interessargli. Ed è una carenza grave già di suo, figuriamoci se poi parliamo di un romanzo a tema sovrannaturale, che ha bisogno per forza di parole forti. E quando uno, malauguratamente, comincia ad appassionarsi... il romanzo finisce. E con uno stile di scrittura così debole, inevitabilmente l'introspezione psicologica ne risente; ed eccoci qui arrivati al secondo grande neo di "Estranei". I personaggi sono labili, frastagliati: nessuna empatia per loro, nessuna antipatia... niente. Persino lo stesso protagonista, Hideo, ha la stessa caratterizzazione di, diciamo, una ciotola di ramen. E proprio come la ciotola di ramen, si fa dimenticare una volta conclusa la lettura. Pensate: mi sono meravigliata del fatto che mi ricordassi il suo nome! Non è che abbia parlato molto nel dettaglio di "Estranei", lo so. Ma non ne vale la pena: cari amanti della letteratura giapponese, lo avete già letto decine di volte con titoli diversi. Nessun pregio in più rispetto allo standard, nessun difetto in più rispetto allo standard: una lettura inutile, insomma. Da leggere soltanto se siete Otaku di Haruki Murakami, degli scrittori giapponesi in generale (o del super computer?) e della cultura di questo popolo. Tutti gli altri... mah, sappiano che, evitandolo, non si perderanno il prossimo grande capolavoro giapponese. Anzi.

  22. 5 out of 5

    David Haws

    While I like speculative fiction, “ghost stories” aren’t my favorites, and I probably wouldn’t have read the book except that they had it in our library’s section of Japanese fiction. I find the concept a little weak. How did 桂 (I’m grateful the translator left us enough information to determine the kanji of Kei’s name) become so powerful by simply killing herself? What was the point of the misdirection with the parents? Why use a first person narrative so you know the protagonist is going to su While I like speculative fiction, “ghost stories” aren’t my favorites, and I probably wouldn’t have read the book except that they had it in our library’s section of Japanese fiction. I find the concept a little weak. How did 桂 (I’m grateful the translator left us enough information to determine the kanji of Kei’s name) become so powerful by simply killing herself? What was the point of the misdirection with the parents? Why use a first person narrative so you know the protagonist is going to survive? I think I would have liked it better as a short story, focused on 原田さん’s re-discovery of his dead parents (death by 孝行) I just don’t think there is enough in the adult-boy/deceased parents plot to sustain a novel (it might make an interesting sit-com, although maybe a little too self-referential). As it is, the characterizations conform too closely to our (American) stereotype of the Japanese: superstitious, having an odd crowded-but-lonely existence, where a physical blemish precludes the possibility of companionship. My favorite moment in the book is when Mamiya is trying to ward Kei off with his prayer beads (数珠—the translator calls them a “rosary,” which is probably misleading for a western reader). While neither of the men seems religious, we know that Harada—at least in terms of his training—is Pure Land (南無阿弥陀仏). Mamiya must be Nichiren (南無妙法蓮華経, probably just his childhood training as well). When his chant isn’t working, Mamiya asks Harada if he knows Kei’s sect. There was choice humor here, but I’m not sure it was intentional (and I found Harada’s lyricism about Kei’s "beautiful white buttocks" embarrassing).

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nick Tramdack

    I read this book in a Caribou Coffee on Halsted Street during a depressing time in my life. The windows were rainy, I was almost the only person in the store. But Yamada's absorbing story and sharp style succeeded in distracting me from my troubles. Some technical observations: "By the same token, getting divorced wasn't likely to expand the horizons of an over-40 television writer so terribly much. I knew this." Look at how the narration takes 3 words to emphasize that this judgment was being mad I read this book in a Caribou Coffee on Halsted Street during a depressing time in my life. The windows were rainy, I was almost the only person in the store. But Yamada's absorbing story and sharp style succeeded in distracting me from my troubles. Some technical observations: "By the same token, getting divorced wasn't likely to expand the horizons of an over-40 television writer so terribly much. I knew this." Look at how the narration takes 3 words to emphasize that this judgment was being made at the time, not in retrospect. "I had not changed seats to get a better view of the act. In fact, I had no good reason to change seats at all. It was a silly thing to do." You never see protagonists saying this stuff in most books, but in fact, we all make moves like this every day. I like how this story's extreme psychological realism buttresses the occult angle. "Well I hope you'll take your time with me, too, so one day you'll see what's so great about me. The quip formed in my head, but I did not utter it aloud. I shied away from getting too deeply involved." This line, which you could imagine as a noir voiceover, almost reads as dialogue the first time, only to be retracted by the narrator. A subtle move, formally mirroring the thought-process involved. "Spitting the words out crisp and snappy, she was really quite the dame." - another line with a noir feeling. Atmospheric and hard-edged, realistic and ghostly, a great read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nick G

    I'm always searching for fiction that blends surreal elements into reality in a unique but natural sort of way, without attempting to explain it all away logically. In short, something that makes reality feel like some kind of abstract dream state and then just goes with it. There's no genre for this, as far as I'm aware, but it's something I enjoy. This story was just that, if not a 'lite' version of what I typically find. That isn't a bad thing, either, as it makes for a quick read. The langua I'm always searching for fiction that blends surreal elements into reality in a unique but natural sort of way, without attempting to explain it all away logically. In short, something that makes reality feel like some kind of abstract dream state and then just goes with it. There's no genre for this, as far as I'm aware, but it's something I enjoy. This story was just that, if not a 'lite' version of what I typically find. That isn't a bad thing, either, as it makes for a quick read. The language, though, at times felt weak and repetitive, and I got the feeling a lot of this was due to translation. The word 'forlorn' was used maybe ten times, how that makes it past editing I'm not sure. The main character's perception of the strange events wasn't necessary shallow, but tended to repeat itself instead of grow with the story ("I can't believe I'm hanging out with a paranormal 30 year old version of my dead parents. It's so strange, maybe I'm crazy. But I like them). Those are the only complaints I have, though, which is what made this feel like a 'lite' version of a bigger story as I mentioned above. It's a great, strange and curious journey, and I'd recommend it as a solid 4 star book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Gertrude & Victoria

    Strangers, by Yamada Taichi, is a story of a middle-aged scriptwriter in the midst of a small personal crisis, who is caught in a bizarre set of circumstances, as his life is interrupted by an unexpected and ghostly encounter. Yamada's style is lucid, concise and modern, which makes for easy reading. He capably delivers you from one scene to the next, with a cool Japanese chic. The main character, Hara, is stranded between two worlds as he tries to seperate, reality from illusion, apparition from Strangers, by Yamada Taichi, is a story of a middle-aged scriptwriter in the midst of a small personal crisis, who is caught in a bizarre set of circumstances, as his life is interrupted by an unexpected and ghostly encounter. Yamada's style is lucid, concise and modern, which makes for easy reading. He capably delivers you from one scene to the next, with a cool Japanese chic. The main character, Hara, is stranded between two worlds as he tries to seperate, reality from illusion, apparition from imagination. He rationalizes; he doubts; he struggles in anguish over his encounters; and he fantasizes and nurtures a boyish yearning for bygone days, in which happiness was always near, but, all this, not without trepidation. Unfortunately, the ending seems contrived and out of step with the rest of the narrative. Despite its weak conclusion, overall, this novel is surprisingly satisfying and worth the effort.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Novia

    I have to admit that the book is not like what I imagined it to be, I was expecting it to be a full haunting blood chill kinda story…but I wouldn’t say that I don’t like it, in fact I really like it. The story is well-written and like most Japanese novels I had read so far, Strangers (originally titled Ijin-tachi to no Natsu or Summer With Strangers) is closed with great ending. I really like the realization that hits him in the end of his journey. And the ending gives something for us to think… I have to admit that the book is not like what I imagined it to be, I was expecting it to be a full haunting blood chill kinda story…but I wouldn’t say that I don’t like it, in fact I really like it. The story is well-written and like most Japanese novels I had read so far, Strangers (originally titled Ijin-tachi to no Natsu or Summer With Strangers) is closed with great ending. I really like the realization that hits him in the end of his journey. And the ending gives something for us to think…what is actually in the mind of that ghost? And the ending is also quite chilling. I also like the way Harada is portrayed to be a 49 years old man who turns into 12 years old boy every time he meets his ghost-parents who are actually younger than he is (his parents are still in their thirties, the age when they died). I like how the story turns from a boring life of a divorced man to a complicated supernatural life. Full review http://bokunosekai.wordpress.com/2010...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte (Buried in Books)

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This story is about loss and loneliness and yearning for human contact, to find connection and re-visit the past. It's a ghost story where a middle aged divorced man comes across a couple who look exactly like his parents - the problem is they died when he was 12. As he spends more time with them he begins to re-discover the enjoyment of spending time with others, of being a child again - of trying to re-gain the childhood that he lost. He also begins a relationship with the only other resident o This story is about loss and loneliness and yearning for human contact, to find connection and re-visit the past. It's a ghost story where a middle aged divorced man comes across a couple who look exactly like his parents - the problem is they died when he was 12. As he spends more time with them he begins to re-discover the enjoyment of spending time with others, of being a child again - of trying to re-gain the childhood that he lost. He also begins a relationship with the only other resident of his apartment building. As both relationships progress he begins to waste away. Chapter 13 had me in tears, it was beautiful, a little boy desperately trying to hold onto his parents, hearing how proud they are of him.

  28. 5 out of 5

    William Cook

    An excellent supernatural tale of loss by Taichi Yamada This review is from: Strangers (Paperback) An excellent supernatural tale of loss, love and grief. Yamada excels at building a subtle story that portrays indirect emotional characterisation within the main character, Harada. The story delves into Harada's inner world and as his past unwinds before us we discover that it is not necessarily a physical reality but more of a paranormal/supernatural one that he is confronted with. Recommended for An excellent supernatural tale of loss by Taichi Yamada This review is from: Strangers (Paperback) An excellent supernatural tale of loss, love and grief. Yamada excels at building a subtle story that portrays indirect emotional characterisation within the main character, Harada. The story delves into Harada's inner world and as his past unwinds before us we discover that it is not necessarily a physical reality but more of a paranormal/supernatural one that he is confronted with. Recommended for lovers of 'quiet', subtle storytelling with a dark but philosophical moral dimension. 4.5 stars.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Maisha

    As I started opening the first pages, Strangers seemed pretty exciting regardless of the genre, which is horror and personally I do not enjoy such books. I didn't read it as a horror novel, and I found myself reflecting over several things rather getting horrified over the book. The story is well written, pretty different than the styles I have seen before. The language used is easy to comprehend, with several formal English words introduced because I've never heard some of them. But as the stor As I started opening the first pages, Strangers seemed pretty exciting regardless of the genre, which is horror and personally I do not enjoy such books. I didn't read it as a horror novel, and I found myself reflecting over several things rather getting horrified over the book. The story is well written, pretty different than the styles I have seen before. The language used is easy to comprehend, with several formal English words introduced because I've never heard some of them. But as the story went on, I found several events a little odd, probably because the timing the author had chosen for scenes that needed to be a bit more dramatic. Overall, Strangers is a great Japanese book and worth to read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Noam

    i only knew about this book from pretentiously wanting to read it before watching the obayashi movie based on it, but it was well worth the obscure recommendation. good show. i'm not sure how it could possibly be read as a horror story, so the frequent exhortation to "not read it as a horror story" is a little odd: this is much more like a (ryu) murakami book - in a good way - and not just because it's japanese... the terse writing and family dynamic are the winners. but the specters and spooks i only knew about this book from pretentiously wanting to read it before watching the obayashi movie based on it, but it was well worth the obscure recommendation. good show. i'm not sure how it could possibly be read as a horror story, so the frequent exhortation to "not read it as a horror story" is a little odd: this is much more like a (ryu) murakami book - in a good way - and not just because it's japanese... the terse writing and family dynamic are the winners. but the specters and spooks are occasionally just a little bit contrived - makes me wonder what the author could do if not writing a "horror story". 3.5/5

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