A fierce, exquisitely dark novel that plunges us into post-World War II Occupied Japan in a "Rashomon"-like retelling of a mass poisoning (based on an actual event), its aftermath, and the hidden wartime atrocities that led to the crime.
On January 26, 1948, a man identifying himself as a public health official arrives at a bank in Tokyo. There has been an outbreak of dysentery in the neighborhood, he explains, and he has been assigned by Occupation authorities to treat everyone who might have been exposed to the disease. Soon after drinking the medicine he administers, twelve employees are dead, four are unconscious, and the "official" has fled . . .
Twelve voices tell the story of the murder from different perspectives. One of the victims speaks, for all the victims, from the grave. We read the increasingly mad notes of one of the case detectives, the desperate letters of an American occupier, the testimony of a traumatized survivor. We meet a journalist, a gangster-turned-businessman, an "occult detective," a Soviet soldier, a well-known painter. Each voice enlarges and deepens the portrait of a city and a people making their way out of a war-induced hell.
"Occupied City" immerses us in an extreme time and place with a brilliantly idiosyncratic, expressionistic, mesmerizing narrative. It is a stunningly audacious work of fiction from a singular writer.
"From the Hardcover edition."
"An extraordinary and highly original crime novel . . . A truly remarkable work. It is hugely daring, utterly irresistible, deeply serious and unlike anything I have ever read." --Justin Cartwright, New York Times Book Review
"Like the novels of Stieg Larsson, Peace's books are fueled by political passion . . . Genuinely hypnotic . . . It's no wonder that several critics have compared its mood to Eliot's The Waste Land." --Harper's
"Hypnotic postmodern noir of almost unrivaled fury. . . . Expect to be enthralled and maybe amazed. . . . [Occupied City] takes no prisoners." --Los Angeles Times Book Review
"A genre-busting mystery and meditation on the ambiguity of elusive reality . . . Peace writes with boatloads of style. . . . This backdrop [of post-war Tokyo] shows how deliberate, bold, and deadly serious Peace is." --Austin American-Statesman
"Occupied City quickly became my favorite Peace novel . . . This is a true literary thriller, haunting psychological crime fiction exquisitely penned." --Helen Thorpe, Largehearted Boy (blog)
"A heart-thumping experimental novel which bursts the bounds of the usual genre categories . . . Exhilarating." --Seeing the World Through Books (blog)
"This is a savagely beautiful, richly startling novel . . . The raw beauty of Peace's language envelops you . . . Peace writes brilliantly of shattered roads, shattered lives, a fragmenting self, fragmenting society . . . He is an astonishing storyteller."--The Times (UK)
"Peace's breathtaking skill renders all [the voices] vividly, forcefully alive . . . His pulp-modernist style feels honed and refined to scalpel-sharp efficiency . . . Peace is like a fearsome tornado turning the world on its head--and we should be grateful for him." --Financial Times
"A marvellous book . . . You will occasionally feel glad as you read that nobody else writes like Peace, but you will put down the book amazed and delighted that at least one person does." --Daily Telegraph (UK)
"Peace doesn't simply examine wartime Japan's dark heart. He punches through the rib cage to rip it out, vivisect it, and write page after hallucinatory page in its hot, black blood . . . Occupied City is a gripping crime story, too . . . My copy of Occupied City won't be going anywhere near a second-hand bookshop." --Independent (UK)
"Tokyo Year Zero was a gripping performance [but] Occupied City [is] a tighter read, with greater momentum, than its predecessor . . . The novels Peace produces are uncommonly serious about the nature of the tissues that bind together history, rumour, politics, psychology, community and fiction. At their best, they develop a kind of literary forensics, exhuming histories of violence to probe the necrotised organs of the societies in which that violence erupts . . . Peace wields the scalpel like no one else." --Observer (UK)