The Gate of Sorrows by Miyuki Miyabe [Review]

AESTHETICS“I have friends like that—very straightforward and responsible, good at what they do, good home life. But they get stressed, and they blow off steam by posting aggressive comments on the web. Their web personality is different from their real personality. They keep them separate. They just laugh and say it’s okay to write whatever you can’t say in the real world, no matter how critical or negative it is. That does seem to be one purpose of the Internet for a lot of people.”

I came across the Gate of Sorrows wanting to expose myself to Japanese literature and authors. When I read the book’s blurb I was very interested in it. Basically, there have been murders in an area of Tokyo that the nearby residents concerned. Two of those people being a retired, aging detective and another a young college student who works at a company dedicated to cyber security. Each tackles the mystery in their own way but as it seems, at the center of this is a mysterious statue of a gargoyle that sits atop an abandoned building.

An important part of the book is the importance of words, their power over us and how they can make us who we are or can change us for the better/worse. For me, the book was a bit confusing trying to get its point across. Also, I felt there were many layers to this book. There’s are parts that focus on the protagonist’s everyday lives, their jobs, and their family life and consequently how their lives fit into the murder mystery and then underneath all this is the element of fantasy. Somehow these aspects, from the mundane to the fantastical, are woven together to construct the message the book is trying to convey.

When I read this I didn’t know this book was connected with a previous one from the same author called the Book of Heroes. Still, this one can be read as a stand alone. What started out as a murder mystery became so much more and I think I was very pleasantly surprised by the originality of this book. If you’re into mystery and fantasy I recommend this one. I think the Tokyo backdrop makes me like it even more.

The first part of the prologue was so good, having an air of mystery that it sank its teeth into me and I didn’t want to drop this book.  Later, a few parts I felt might’ve dragged on a bit but this is still well worth a read.

“The little girl was faint with hunger. She was cold. Her mother, wracked with fever and nodding off into dreams between fits of coughing, didn’t feel the cold and emptiness the way her daughter did.”

Anyone read any good books from Asian authors or books taking place somewhere in Asia?

4 out of 5

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7 comments

  1. google brought you to me! I’m a pharmacist too but just a Bachelor’s Degree, working in Australia. If you want a Japanese author, my favorite is Haruki Murakami (pick the Jay Rubin translated ones), if you like mystery is Keigo Higashiro.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My fellow commenters share some good suggestions. I might humbly disagree re: H. Murakami – he’s polarizing let’s say. For those looking East, I usually suggest Natsume Soseki and Yasunari Kawabata.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Just like the previous book, I feel the author is just saying “This is bad, mmkay?” without actually giving a solution. It just makes the whole thing feel unsatisfactory in the end.

    I guess Japanese books are like that, with its less Western and Abrahamic view of the world. It’s less about what’s right and wrong. It’s more about cyclical karma and sin.

    The setting the fictional world abides with could even be viewed as some sort of cult teachings, since it includes the “real” world in it. Kinda like Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.

    Like

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