Éric Faye; Emily Boyce (translator)
Gallic Books, Jan 13 2015, $12.95
In a Nagasaki suburb, fifty-six years old meteorologist Shimura Kobo enjoys being a solitary man. For instance, instead of occasionally joining his colleagues for drinks after work, the bachelor prefers no deviation from his daily routine, which means go home.
However, Shimura notices minute deviations to his orderly life, but assumes it is his imagination running wild. One day he feels ill so he comes home early only to find proof that his paranoia is based on reality; someone drank half of his juice while he was at work. Though he loathes to do so, Shimura changes his daily routine; instead of going home he take the tram to Hamanomachi to buy monitoring equipment so he can observe his kitchen from his office computer. After setting up the camera in his kitchen, Shimura struggles to do anything at work but watch the monitor. Seeing tiny differences in what he perceives he left in his kitchen to what he observes on his screen, the meteorologist rationalizes these are in his head until he witnesses the fruit juice thief.
Based on a 2008 event in Japan, this profound psychological novella with no action takes an insightful look at how two middle age people react to living alone. Whereas Shimura thrives on a solo act; the house invader desperately seeks belonging (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs third level). Selecting this house eventually makes sense to the audience.