Book review: The Thief – Fuminori Nakamura


Much has been written of the talents of Fuminori Nakamura. This is my first read and I now count myself amongst his fans. The book’s title sort of gives away what the story is about…yep, it’s about a thief, a pickpocket actually, one roaming the streets of Tokyo delicately sliding his fingers into the clothes of unsuspecting passers-by, relieving them of their wallets and purses.

Nakamura’s tale is a sublime read. very noir, and very, very good. The prose style is simple and the story is very easy to follow. But, what I really like about this book is the deceptive nature of the writing style. It comes across as simplistic, but Nakamura is able to paint a very vivid picture of the life of this thief using so few words. The book has a sort of punk rock feel to it, if this makes sense? It is also quite a philosophical book as our narrator often reflects on his life and his experiences.

We follow our narrator through the streets of Tokyo and learn that he once ran with a gang of three, though a one time mega money job causes them to separate. The theme of the story is one of fate. I loved the thief’s reflections on his past endeavours, and how as the story progresses his outlook on what is truly important changes slightly.  By the end it is all too little, too late, and there is an inevitability surrounding the end of our narrators path, but it doesn’t make the read any less immersing. I truly loved it.

The Thief doesn’t really break any new ground, but it is a fascinating and atmospheric read, thoughtful and at times emotional. I guarantee you will become drawn towards this engaging character. The Asian setting also provided a welcome change for me. The book is actually more of a long novella than a novel, and one in which you will soon find yourself entranced by Nakamura’s prose style. For me, The Thief is a top, top draw crime book and the writing is perfect for the genre. A really high quality read, and I will definitely be checking out more from this talented author.

5/5 empty wallets from the Grim Reader.

Pick up a copy from here.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. I’ve recently read Piercing by Ryu Murakami, my first foray into Japanese fiction, and that was awesome! This may be my second!! Cheers!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Shane Keene says:

      I haven’t had the Murakami experience yet I don’t think, but I’ve heard he great.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Indeed, I need to read Audition too, I’m sure it’s even better than the film!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. adishotbolt says:

    I will check Murakami out! Thanks!


  3. Shane Keene says:

    Great review. I love Nakamura. Everything he writes is golden. Another one to check out is Kanae Minato. Penance and Confessions are both stellar novels.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. adishotbolt says:

    Yeah, man. I saw your review for The God in the Shed and just got a copy from the publisher. Sounds great!!

    Liked by 1 person

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