A fierce, exquisitely dark novel that plunges us into post–World War II Occupied Japan in a Rashomon-like retelling of a mass poisoning (based on an actual event), its aftermath, and the hidden wartime atrocities that led to the crime.
On January 26, 1948, a man identifying himself as a public health official arrives at a bank in Tokyo. There has been an outbreak of dysentery in the neighborhood, he explains, and he has been assigned by Occupation authorities to treat everyone who might have been exposed to the disease. Soon after drinking the medicine he administers, twelve employees are dead, four are unconscious, and the “official” has fled . . .
Twelve voices tell the story of the murder from different perspectives. One of the victims speaks, for all the victims, from the grave. We read the increasingly mad notes of one of the case detectives, the desperate letters of an American occupier, the testimony of a traumatized survivor. We meet a journalist, a gangster-turned-businessman, an “occult detective,” a Soviet soldier, a well-known painter. Each voice enlarges and deepens the portrait of a city and a people making their way out of a war-induced hell.
Occupied City immerses us in an extreme time and place with a brilliantly idiosyncratic, expressionistic, mesmerizing narrative. It is a stunningly audacious work of fiction from a singular writer.
From the Hardcover edition.
Following up on his stellar TOKYO YEAR ZERO, David Peace presents another riveting historical mystery which uses a literary symphony of voices to evoke a gruesome multiple homicide which took place in Tokyo in 1948. A well-dressed man carrying a doctor's bag entered a bank just before closing, claiming that he had been dispatched by the Occupation authorities to treat everyone in the area against an outbreak of dysentery. All 16 of the bank's employees swallowed his story, and then the "medicine" he gave them, which turned out to be a lethal poison. The man disappeared without a trace, along with all of the bank's holdings. Four of the victims survived, but their remembrance of the chilling events is merely one of more than a dozen different versions of the killing Peace provides, ranging from the irrational notes of the legion of detectives assigned to the case to the frantic letters of an American doctor who believes the case is tied to the Japanese production of biochemical weapons.
- Fiction + Literature Genres, Fiction + Literature Themes
- Mystery + Crime, Medicine + Health, Legal + Courtroom + Crime, Peoples + Cultures, Literary Genres + Types of Novels, War + Military, Types of Characters, General
- February 8, 2011
- February 8, 2011
- David Peace