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Who Is Mr Satoshi?

11 Comments
By James Hadfield

Middle-aged photographer Robert “Foss” Fossick has been living as a recluse since his wife died in a tragic holiday accident, prone to panic attacks and guzzling fistfuls of medication to make it through the day. When his senile mother takes a fatal fall on the nursing home patio, she leaves him in possession of a shoebox addressed to a mysterious “Mr Satoshi,” and he is reluctantly drawn into a quest to find the man. This mission will take him from London to Tokyo and later to Hokkaido, in a journey that’s as much about leaving the past behind as digging it up again.

Solicitor-turned-author Jonathan Lee was posted to Tokyo by his law firm in 2007, and wrote "Who Is Mr Satoshi?" on returning to England. As debut novels go, it’s extremely accomplished, even if the frequent literary flourishes can get a bit much at times. Why merely lie down when you can “lay sprawled on the arctic wastes of a foreign bed?" Lee’s portrait of Japan is rich with detail—the “men with left-swerving hair” at a fish market, the “skeletal neon lights” adorning buildings—but also susceptible to cliche. Within hours of touching down, Foss has befriended a pink-haired grad student in Starbucks who speaks fluent English and—wait, it gets better—works at a love hotel run by an ex-sumo wrestler with a Dolly Parton fixation.

I nearly stopped reading at that point, but thankfully the author doesn’t let the narrative spiral out of control after his initial flirtation with kookiness. At heart, this is a tale of loss, and it’s shot through with moments of genuine poignancy, especially as Foss gets closer to solving the riddle that he’s inherited. If the support characters strain credulity at times, our protagonist is a wholly believable creation, insecurities and all, and his emotional journey is what anchors the novel.

This story originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp).

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11 Comments
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Yawn.

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Within hours of touching down, Foss has befriended a pink-haired grad student in Starbucks who speaks fluent English and—wait, it gets better—works at a love hotel run by an ex-sumo wrestler with a Dolly Parton fixation.

Jesus Christ! Talk about a garbage. Wapanese-written trash for the Wapanese. Wait, were the eating sushi and drinking sake in a pachinko parlor while listening to enka?

“lay sprawled on the arctic wastes of a foreign bed?”

“men with left-swerving hair” at a fish market, the “skeletal neon lights”

I don't think I've ever read more pretentious lines.

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Um... What? Sounds very strange, and yeah, those lines kind of make me wary of it all together.

moonknightskye-- I laughed, haha.

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This is not the best recommendation for a book that I have ever seen. I think I will read something else.

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Good question though. Just who the hell is Mr Satoshi?

the arctic wastes of a foreign bed

What? Where? A bit of Gas Panic should sort that out.

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Neon lights ARE skeletal. What a dorky review.

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btw who is Mr Satoshi

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interesting isn't it, the perspective of gaijin on japan related to the amount of time spent in japan all the old timers are ready to bass this author, while those with little Japan experience, might find it interesting

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YAWN!!!

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while those with little Japan experience, might find it interesting

Cliches are rarely interesting, they are just shorthand for something you don't care to understand.

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how about the men with right swerving hair? were they left out of the book entirely? what a shame...

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