Aru Otoko – A Man

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I have just finished reading the novel Aru Otoko (A Man) by Keiichiro Hirano. It has been translated into English, but I read the original Japanese version. I enjoyed it immensely. It made a change from the dark, postwar detective novels which I read in Japanese.

The book is set in the present day, and centers around a lawyer who is asked to investigate a dead man who had been using someone else’s identity. It raised some interesting questions. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to just walk out of one’s life and live the life of someone else. Would your past catch up with you? Would you slip up and get found out? Could you live the life of another person, fool everyone around you, even those you love, and not feel guilty about it?

The book also raises the question of how love relates to the past. Does the past of someone you love matter? Do you love the person in front of you, as they are now, or do you love them as an accumulation of their past experiences?

I won’t go into details (don’t want to spoil it for anyone!) but it is well worth a read.

The book made me cry at the end, something which doesn’t happen with my dark detective novels. Speaking of which, I’m going to start a new one tonight. Can’t wait!

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