By Fuminori Nakamura

Soho Crime, March 20, 2012 ($24.00)

ISBN-13: 9781616950217
eISBN: 9781616950224
Kindle eBook: $9.99

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

Nishimura plies his trade as a pickpocket in the crowded streets of Tokyo. He has no friends, no family. He is disconnected from the throngs of people surging around him. He snatches wallets from unsuspecting strangers who simply remain nameless faces. At times, he doesn't even remember the snatch. His life becomes complicated though by the outcome of a job — a burglary — in which he participated.

Sometimes described as "Japanese noir," this book will leave many readers feeling unsettled. It's more a character study than straight crime novel. Nishimura may be more philosophical than readers expect, yet the book is well worth reading, especially for readers who enjoy a look at the seedier side of Japan.

Just remember, THE THIEF is not a crime novel in the usual sense. Things will not be neat and tidy at its conclusion.

THE THIEF won the Oe Prize (2009), one of Japan's most prestigious literary awards. The author's first novel A GUN (2002), won the Shincho Newcomer's Award, and THE BOY IN THE EARTH (2005) won the Akutagawa prize. THE THIEF is the author's first book to be translated into English.

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