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Evil and the Mask    by Fuminori Nakamura order for
Evil and the Mask
by Fuminori Nakamura
Order:  USA  Can
Soho, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

It wasn't the kind of 11th birthday that Fumihiro Kuki was expecting but, given his father, perhaps it wasn't a total surprise. Born into an exceedingly wealthy, aristocratic Japanese family, the boy is taken aside by his father and told, 'I created you to be a cancer in this world.'

Fumihiro's father then explains that it has been a longstanding family tradition that the last son's sole purpose is to inflict damage and pain upon the world. As he matures, various tools, including a beautiful stepsister, are put in place to make sure the boy fulfills his destiny.

Ironically, the young man struggles to escape this role, but in so doing he moves closer to actually becoming that cancer. Fumihiro's rebellion takes a violent turn that seems to push him more towards the path his father has laid out for him, but there are some fascinating bumps along the way too.

If you are wondering how one person might create enough chaos to damage the world, think along the lines of staging a Japanese version of 9/11 that is laid at North Korea's doorstep. That does fall within the realm of possibility!

A very unusual story that will remind some readers of Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, Evil and the Mask is disturbing but also has a haunting quality that keeps you reading when you might normally say 'enough is enough' and quit.

Fuminori Nakamura has already won the Noma Literary Prize for New Writers for his debut, The Gun, and the Akutagawa prize in 2005 for The Boy in the Earth. Five years later his bestseller, The Thief, was given Japan's most prestigious award, the Oe Prize. One of the country's most lauded young writers, Nakamura brings a new perspective to the psychological thriller that has captivated readers around the globe.

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