Fuminori Nakamura is considered one of the leading crime writers in Japan and is called the new master of ‘Japanese Noir’. Its been said that his works examine of some of the darker element of Japanese society and have netted him many awards such as the Akutagawa prize and the Kenzaburo Oe Prize, Japan’s most prestigious literary award. A number of his books have been translated into English such as The Gun, Evil and the Mask, and Last Winter, We Parted.
In a recent visit to London during a talk organised by the Japanese Foundation to a packed audience, Nakamura (photo inset) explained to interviewer Paul Blezard just how he got started. “I started writing down my anxieties in a notebook. Then coming up to graduation in university, I loved books so much and so I thought I should really give it a go…”
Asked just how does he differs from his characters in the Gun novel. he replied “Well the protagonist in the book treats women badly but I treat women well (he says with a wry smile.) He is bored everyday and finds himself drawn to something strong and that something is literature. He is like me in that respect. In the Thief, I`m not a pickpocket but there is a lot of myself in the character.” Interestingly it was the Thief (the second novel) which was actually translated. Infact he considers that some of his work is too dark to be translated.
Where does he fit in the pantheon of Japanese literature? “People think that I`m unusual because apparently it is unusual to have mystery within literature. So as a result those who like literature will read my work and those who like mystery will read my work.”
It`s common knowledge that male novelists find writing female characters tricky. So just how does he inhabit the female mind ? ” so it is not too light…..“The character becomes me. I try to write the words as though I was living them. I need to add the weight to them”
Writers always seem to be stalked by their own irrational fears and Nakamura is no exception. “It take me a long time to hand it [novel] over to the editor…I’m scared about whether I can put it out there. I`ve been writing now for thirteen years but I still feel that fear.”
“So just what advice would you say to yourself 12 years ago asked the interviewer. “I would say that its going to go well so just stick at it. If you write something don`t read it out. Leave it a little while then print it out and then look at it and you will be able to look at it more objectively.”