Book Review: The Boy in the Earth by Fuminori Nakamura

The Boy in the Earth by Fuminori Nakamura

Title: The Boy in the Earth

Author: Fuminori Nakamura

Genre: Literary Fiction

Number of Pages: 161

Rating: B-

Recommended?: Yes

TW: Child Abuse, Animal Cruelty, Domestic Abuse, Suicide

The unnamed narrator of The Boy in the Earth is a man traumatized by the sadistic abuse he suffered as a child. Working as a taxi driver, he maintains an unsteady relationship with an similarly troubled woman and contemplates suicide, or simply disappearing. This is a psychological character study that is hard to read at times, you can’t help but feel sorry for the main character.

Like the other books I’ve read by this author (The Gun and The Thief) the writing sometimes feels stilted and awkward, possibly because of the translation. The character’s disturbed ponderings feel self-indulgent at times, but there’s still something about the book that’s compelling. The feeling of hopelessness and isolation is so strong that you can’t help but wish for a better life for the main character and his girlfriend, even though redemption seems unlikely.

I think anyone who has suffered from severe depression will be able to relate to this book a little bit, even if they haven’t been through half the trauma the main character experiences. Even though I haven’t exactly loved any of his books, I still enjoy Fuminori Nakamura’s writing and I’ll continue to seek out books he’s written.

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