The aftermath of the murder of a bondage teacher reveals the darkest corners of the human mind in this chilling new mystery from the master of Japanese literary noir.
Two detectives. Two identical women. One dead body— then two, then three, then four. All knotted up in Japan’s underground BDSM scene and kinbaku, a form of rope bondage which bears a complex cultural history of spirituality, torture, cleansing, and sacrifice.
As Togashi, a junior member of the police force, investigates the murder of a kinbaku instructor, he finds himself unable to resist his own private transgressive desires. In contrast, Togashi’s Sherlock Holmesian colleague Hayama is morally upright to a fault, with a stalwart commitment to the truth and nearly superhuman powers of deduction. When Hayama notices a dangerous measure of darkness within Togashi, he embarks on a parallel investigation, which soon spirals out of control.
Unflinching in its flayed-raw treatment of identity, violence, sexuality, power, the occult, and the divine, The Rope Artist is both viscerally painful and unexpectedly hopeful—a genre homage that shines a light on the most dangerous elements of the human psyche.
About the Author
Fuminori Nakamura was born in 1977 and graduated from Fukushima University in 2000. He has won numerous prizes for his writing, including Japan’s prestigious Ōe Prize; the David L. Goodis Award for Noir Fiction; and the Akutagawa Prize. The Thief, his first novel to be translated into English, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His other novels include Cult X, The Gun, The Kingdom, Evil and the Mask, The Boy in the Earth, My Annihilation, and Last Winter, We Parted.
Sam Bett is a fiction writer and Japanese translator. His translation work has won the Japan-US Friendship Commission Prize and been shortlisted for the International Booker Prize.
Praise for The Rope Artist “Raw eroticism, untethered justice, unreliable narratives, and psychological twists infuse this complex literary mystery with edgy danger and lingering existential questions.” —Booklist
“[Nakamura] produces a stunning climactic surprise that will make you think of this particular case, and erotic bondage generally, in a whole new way. Spellbinding.” —Kirkus Reviews Praise for Fuminori Nakamura “[A] lurid and intellectually ambitious new thriller . . . Every time you think you grasp what’s going on, Nakamura reminds you that you are not in control here. Perhaps you are never in control.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Nakamura's impassioned writing is part of a continuum that stretches from Dostoevsky to Camus to Ōe.” —Los Angeles Times
“You’ll think about Nakamura’s questions long after you’ve closed his book’s covers.” —NPR
“[Nakamura] has made a career out of pushing the boundaries of existential horror, shining a light on the darkest shadows of humanity . . . This chilling psychological mystery about a violent crime promises not to disappoint. Expect anything but a happy ending.” —The Japan Times