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Lady Joker: Volume 2: The Million Copy Bestselling 'Masterpiece of Japanese Crime Fiction'

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My only gripe is that the female characters were relegated to minor roles as “the wife” or “the secretary”. This however may be a reflection of corporate life in Japan in the 90s where women did not have roles in executive. One of my gripes about the Japanese fiction we read is it is often simply weird – little plot in favour of portrayals of outsiders. Yes, there are outsiders in Lady Joker but their outsider status and their being apart from the corporate world is not the whole plot. I hope to read more Japanese fiction where this is the case. This second half of Lady Joker, by Kaoru Takamura, the Grand Dame of Japanese crime fiction, concludes the breathtaking saga introduced in Volume One. Inspired by the real-life Glico-Morinaga kidnapping, an unsolved case which terrorized Japan for two years, Lady Joker reimagines the circumstances of this watershed episode in modern Japanese history and brings into riveting focus the lives and motivations of the victims, the perpetrators, the heroes and the villains. As the shady networks linking corporations to syndicates are brought to light, the stakes rise, and some of the professionals we have watched try to fight their way through this crisis will lose everything–some even their lives. Will the culprits ever be brought to justice? More importantly–what is justice? Lady Joker, Volume Two by Kaoru Takamura – eBook Details A novel that portrays with devastating immensity how those on the dark fringes of society can be consumed by the darkness of their own hearts’Yoko Ogawa, author of The Memory Police

Lady Joker, Volume Two by Kaoru Takamura | Goodreads

An immense and extraordinary feat of writing and translation that has been long-awaited in English, Lady Joker is at once a thriller and a sweeping cultural history of Japan, a love story and a work of poignant social commentary.” DNF at 47%. Although Lady Joker is by no means a horrible book, I just cannot motivate myself to finish it. It is boring and repetitive, the characters are neither nuanced nor interesting enough to keep me invested, and I do not see the plot going anywhere.Inspired by the real-life Glico-Morinaga kidnapping, an unsolved case that terrorized Japan for two years, Lady Joker reimagines this watershed episode in modern Japanese history. Through the working class, and executives, the police force and media, author Kaoru Takamura brings to her readers a Japan which is complicated and often corrupt. The disenfranchised working class who commit a crime seem no better (or worse) than the corporate executives who commit crimes in their own, more subtle, ways.” The premise sounded so good - a plan to extort money out of a beer corporation - and I was glued to the book for about the first third of it. But once it moved away from the “Lady Joker” group who commit the crime and focused on the victim of the crime, the press, and the police - it just became very boring and moved painfully slow. I can’t allow myself to not finish a book (unless it’s completely terrible) - so I continued to work my way through it although it took way longer than it should have because I just kept getting bored. Eventually I started to speed read through it just to get it done. Lady Joker reads like Don DeLillo’s Underworld rewritten by James Ellroy, or perhaps LA Confidential rewritten by Don DeLillo? What I’m trying to say here is, Lady Joker is EPIC.”

Lady Joker: Volume 2: The Million Copy Bestselling Lady Joker: Volume 2: The Million Copy Bestselling

Centered around an extortion case involving a beer company, Lady Joker would ordinarily be categorized in the crime or mystery novel genre, yet the book deserves to be called an exemplary literary work that depicts contemporary society . . . A magnum opus . . . It requires extraordinary skill to fully depict the ambivalence of Japanese society, in all its detail. Reading Lady Joker together with James Ellroy’s American Tabloid and the drama behind the Kennedy assassination serves as an intriguing comparison. Viewing a society through the lens of a crime is like examining a disease or a corpse to get at the person: it exposes the foundations of human existence.” A novel that portrays with devastating immensity how those on the dark fringes of society can be consumed by the darkness of their own hearts.” It's the first book I've read in a long time without a single non-cis-male main character. Takamura's female characters are wives, secretaries, nieces, daughters and they have no point of view of their own in her telling of the story. She seems deeply fascinating by a society made by, run by and destroyed by men and men only. Like Ellroy’s American Tabloid and Carr’s The Alienist, the book uses crime as a prism to examine dynamic periods of social history . . . Takamura’s blistering indictment of capitalism, corporate corruption and the alienation felt by characters on both sides of the law from institutions they once believed would protect them resonates surprisingly with American culture.”


Admirers of intricate crime fiction, which both engages the intellect and offers insights into the hidden parts of a society, will hope for further translations of this gifted author’s work.” I wanted to love this book and I think if I had read Volume 1 before it I would have. However, I found it slower than what I typically love. This second half of Lady Joker, by Kaoru Takamura, the Grand Dame of Japanese crime fiction, concludes the breathtaking saga introduced in Volume One. TL;DR: Cool book, lots of detail, complex characters. Slow at times, but in the end a captivating crime drama that educates as much as it entertains. Finally, a note on translation. I’ve heard it said that translators’ names should be on the cover, and that honor is well deserved here. Iida and Powell prove that English holds a world of words that showcase beauty, depth and highly specific meanings—far from the banal, undifferentiated language we native speakers oft accuse it of being. The English language edition of Lady Joker shows that translation is a high art form worthy of our deep respect and appreciation—especially given the need to bring Takamura’s industry-specific terminology and precision to life.

LADY JOKER, VOLUME 1 | Kirkus Reviews LADY JOKER, VOLUME 1 | Kirkus Reviews

This isn't always the case, and at times the story really flies along. It's not even that there is more action happening, it just eases up on double and triple explanations. One of Japan’s great modern writers, this second half of Lady Joker brings Kaoru Takamura’s breathtaking masterpiece to a gripping conclusion. A novel that portrays withdevastating immensityhow those on the dark fringes of society can be consumed by the darkness of their own hearts.”My thanks to John Murray Press U.K. Baskerville for an eARC and to John Murray Press U.K. Audio for a review copy of the unabridged audiobook edition, both via NetGalley, of ‘Lady Joker Volume 2’ by Kaoru Takamura. The audiobook is narrated by Brian Nishii. Intent on revenge against a society that values corporate behemoths more than human life, the five conspirators decide to carry out a heist: kidnap the CEO of Japan’s largest beer conglomerate and extract blood money from the company’s corrupt financiers. It is well worth the wait for anyone interested in a panoramic portrait of modern Japanese society, including its dark corners, as well as fans of intelligent mysteries.” This is a hard book to rate. The translation and writing style is wonderful, to an extent. I find the story quite wordy yet the minute details are what shapes the characters. Skimming the text would have portrayed the characters flatter than they are. I can definitely understand readers finding the characters flat regardless but to me, they felt very much so as I'd expect for a Japanese translated work. Yet while there are acute observations of Japanese life there is also much that is recognisable about modern capitalism in Lady Joker. There is a lot of focus on the beer company and the trials and tribulations of Hinode will be recognised by many working in industries where one firm has a near monopoly of the market and remains desperate to hang onto its market share. There are multiple risks to the company, including from the kidnappers who threaten to damage their product, the opportunities for corporate exploitation by established and organised crime groups as well as the very real threat of having their finances scrutinised by the authorities.

Lady Joker: Volume 2: The Million Copy Bestselling

Takamura joins American writers James Ellroy, author ofAmerican Tabloid, and Don Winslow, author of several novels about the drug trade, to illuminate a society in which power and money matter far more than morality. All three write mysteries that also function as morality plays . . . Bravura.” Takamura’s eye for detail and storytelling prowess are astonishing . . . It’s possible to read Lady Joker in various ways—as a mystery novel, a police procedural, or a cautionary tale of corporate risk management. I read it as an exploration of the original sin of human existence . . . The depth of empathy readers will feel for this book’s characters directly corresponds with the author’s insight on the intersections of human existence.”

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Mysterious and multilayered, [ Lady Joker] gives readers extortion and kidnapping as it critiques the dark corners of Japanese society and the human experience.” The book starts with a letter from Seiji Okamura to the Hinode Beer Company written in June 1947. He was one of forty employees who resigned from the company’s Kanagawa factory. It transpires in his letter that he is a member of the Baraku people - meaning Hamlet people who are a caste-like minority and the largest discriminated against population in Japan. The letter alleges that these employees received discrimination for being at the bottom of the traditional social herirachy and also for their attempts to have union recognition. I'm also a little lost on where this book falls. It's set in the 90s so it feels like I could now place it under historical fiction but at the time of original publication (1997 I think), it would be deemed fiction? It's not really a thriller considering the incident wasn't all that thrilling. There's no mystery to the reader either, only to the police and media.

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