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Occupied City

Cover of Occupied City

Occupied City

Tokyo Trilogy, Book 2
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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.

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.

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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    The First Candle--The Testimony of the Victims Weeping

    Because of you. The city is a coffin. In the snow. In the back of a truck. Parked outside the bank. In the sleet. Under the heavy damp tarpaulin. Driven through the streets. In the rain. To the hospital. To the morgue. In the sleet. To the mortuary. To the temple. In the snow. To the crematorium. To the earth and to the sky --

    In our twelve cheap wooden coffins --

    In these twelve cheap wooden coffins, we lie. But we do not lie still. In these twelve cheap wooden coffins, we are struggling. Not in the dark, not in the light; in the grey, we are struggling; for here is only grey, here we are only struggling --

    In this grey place,

    that is no place,

    we are struggling all the time, always and already --

    In this place, of no place, between two places. The places we once were, the places we will be --

    The deathly living,

    the living death --

    Between these two places, between these two cities:

    Between the Occupied City and the Dead City, here we dwell, between the Perplexed City and the Posthumous City --

    Here we dwell, in the earth, with the worms,

    in the sky, with the flies, we who are no longer in the houses of being. Beyond loss, flocks of birds fall from the sky and shower us with their bloody feathers and severed wings. But we still hear you. We who are now in the houses of non-being. Beyond loss, schools of
    fish leap from the sea and splatter us with their bloody guts and severed heads. We still see you. We want to breathe again, but we can never breathe again. Beyond loss, herds of cattle run from the fields and trample us with their bloody carcasses and severed limbs. We listen to you. We want to return again, but we can never return again. Beyond loss. We watch you still. Through our veils--

    The veils which no longer hang before our eyes, these veils which now hang behind our eyes, their threads spun by our tears, their webs woven by our deaths, these veils which replaced our names, which replaced our lives --

    Through these veils,

    still we see --

    Still we watch, we watch you . . .

    Our mouths always open, our mouths already open. But we no longer talk, we can no longer talk, here we can only mouth, mouth:

    Do we matter to you? Did we ever matter?

    Our mouths always screams,

    already screams, screams

    that mouth:

    Your apathy is our disease; your apathy, a plague . . .

    We dwell beyond sorrow. You close your mouths. We dwell beyond pain. You close your eyes. Beyond grief, beyond despair. You
    close your ears, for you do not hear us, for you do not listen to us . . .


    And we are tired, we are so tired, so very tired --

    But still we dwell, between these two places --

    Beyond dereliction, we lie. Drunk, you harangue us. Beyond oblivion, we wait. Sober, you ignore us. Forgotten and untended,
    buried or burnt, haunted and restless, under the earth and above the sky, without dreams and without sleep. You are blind to our suffering. We are so tired, so very tired. You are deaf to our supplications. We weep without tears, we scream without sound,

    yet still we wait, and still

    we watch --

    Between the Occupied City and the Dead City, between the Perplexed City and the Posthumous City we wait, we watch and we
    struggle. Here in this grey place, here where we are waiting,

    watching and struggling:

    Cursed be you who cast us into this place! Cursed be you who keep us here! Fickle...

About the Author-
  • David Peace is the author of the Red Riding Quartet, GB84, The Damned Utd, and Tokyo Year Zero. He was chosen as one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists of 2003, and has received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the German Crime Fiction Award, and France's Grand Prix du Roman Noir for Best Foreign Novel. In 2007, he was named as GQ (UK) Writer of the Year. He lived in Tokyo for fifteen years before returning to his native Yorkshire.

    From the Hardcover edition.

Reviews-
  • New York Times Book Review

    "An extraordinary and highly original crime novel . . . This is a truly remarkable work. It is hugely daring, utterly irresistible, deeply serious and unlike anything I have ever read."

  • Los Angeles Times Book Review "Hypnotic postmodern noir of almost unrivaled fury . . . Expect to be enthralled and maybe amazed . . . Occupied City takes no prisoners . . . Hardly any writer can invoke T. S. Eliot and The Waste Land and expect to get away with it, but Peace does. He's an original and ambitious writer."
  • Harper's "Like the novels of Stieg Larsson, Peace's books are fueled by political passion . . . Occupied City [is] genuinely hypnotic."
  • The Times (UK) "This is a savagely beautiful, richly startling novel . . . The raw beauty of Peace's language envelops you . . . Peace writes brilliantly of shattered roads, shattered lives, a fragmenting self, fragmenting society . . . He is an astonishing storyteller."
  • Austin American-Statesman "A genre-busting mystery and meditation on the ambiguity of elusive reality . . . Peace writes with boatloads of style . . . The most compelling character is Tokyo itself, a ruined city in a ruined country, a place of shadows and lies that feels not unlike Vienna in The Third Man or wartime Europe in Alan Furst's novels."
  • Library Journal "This original amalgam of storytelling, history, and style compares to Haruki Murakami in its content and scope but challenges the reader to unravel the mystery in 12 distinct voices . . . Maintains the fast pace of a historical thriller."
  • Publishers Weekly (starred) "A tour de force."
  • Booklist (starred) "Occupied City is a stunning--and stunningly challenging--novel, a product of extensive historical research, remarkable imagination, and deep insight. It is certainly among the best books of the new year."
  • Observer (UK) "Tokyo Year Zero was a gripping performance [but] Occupied City [is] a tighter read, with greater momentum, than its predecessor . . . The novels Peace produces are uncommonly serious about the nature of the tissues that bind together history, rumour, politics, psychology, community and fiction."
  • Kirkus Reviews (starred) "Powerful and ambitious . . . Peace [is] immensely talented."
  • Financial Times "Peace's breathtaking skill renders all [the voices] vividly, forcefully alive . . . His pulp-modernist style feels honed and refined to scalpel-sharp efficiency . . . Peace is like a fearsome tornado turning the world on its head."
  • Daily Telegraph (UK) "A marvellous book."
  • Birmingham Post (UK) "Undoubtedly one of the best British novelists working today."
  • Independent (UK) "Peace doesn't simply examine wartime Japan's dark heart. He punches through the rib cage to rip it out, vivisect it, and write page after hallucinatory page in its hot, black blood . . . Occupied City is a gripping crime story, too . . . My copy of Occupied City won't be going anywhere near a second-hand bookshop."
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    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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Tokyo Trilogy, Book 2
David Peace
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