The Box Man

      Kōbō Abe
The Box Man

Kobo Abe, the internationally acclaimed author of Woman in the Dunes, combines wildly imaginative fantasies and naturalistic prose to create narratives reminiscent of the work of Kafka and Beckett.

In this eerie and evocative masterpiece, the nameless protagonist gives up his identity and the trappings of a normal life to live in a large cardboard box he wears over his head. Wandering the streets of Tokyo and scribbling madly on the interior walls of his box, he describes the world outside as he sees or perhaps imagines it, a tenuous reality that seems to include a mysterious rifleman determined to shoot him, a seductive young nurse, and a doctor who wants to become a box man himself. The Box Man is a marvel of sheer originality and a bizarrely fascinating fable about the very nature of identity.

Translated from the Japanese by E. Dale Saunders.

From the Trade Paperback edition.


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    The Face of Another

      Kōbō Abe
The Face of Another

Like an elegantly chilling postscript to The Metamorphosis, this classic of postwar Japanese literature describes a bizarre physical transformation that exposes the duplicities of an entire world. The narrator is a scientist hideously deformed in a laboratory accident–a man who has lost his face and, with it, his connection to other people. Even his wife is now repulsed by him.

His only entry back into the world is to create a mask so perfect as to be undetectable. But soon he finds that such a mask is more than a disguise: it is an alternate self–a self that is capable of anything. A remorseless meditation on nature, identity and the social contract,* *The Face of Another is an intellectual horror story of the highest order.


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    The Woman in the Dunes

      Kōbō Abe
The Woman in the Dunes

The Woman in the Dunes, by celebrated writer and thinker Kobo Abe, combines the essence of myth, suspense and the existential novel.

After missing the last bus home following a day trip to the seashore, an amateur entomologist is offered lodging for the night at the bottom of a vast sand pit. But when he attempts to leave the next morning, he quickly discovers that the locals have other plans. Held captive with seemingly no chance of escape, he is tasked with shoveling back the ever-advancing sand dunes that threaten to destroy the village. His only companion is an odd young woman. Together their fates become intertwined as they work side by side at this Sisyphean task.


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    Secret Rendezvous

      Kōbō Abe
Secret Rendezvous

From the acclaimed author of Woman in the Dunes comes Secret Rendezvous, the bizarrely erotic and comic adventures of a man searching for his missing wife in a mysteriously vast underground hospital.

From the moment that an ambulance appears in the middle of the night to take his wife, who protests that she is perfectly healthy, her bewildered husband realizes that things are not as they should be. His covert explorations reveal that the enormous hospital she was taken to is home to a network of constant surveillance, outlandish sex experiments, and an array of very odd and even violent characters. Within a few days, though no closer to finding his wife, the unnamed narrator finds himself appointed the hospital’s chief of security, reporting to a man who thinks he’s a horse. With its nightmarish vision of modern medicine and modern life, Secret Rendezvous is another masterpiece from Japan’s most gifted and original writer of serious fiction.


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    Beasts Head for Home

      Kōbō Abe
Beasts Head for Home

In the aftermath of World War II, Kuki Kyūzō, a Japanese youth raised in the puppet state of Manchuria, struggles to return home to Japan. What follows is a wild journey involving drugs, smuggling, chases, and capture. Kyūzō finally makes his way to the waters off Japan but finds himself unable to disembark. His nation remains inaccessible to him, and now he questions its very existence. Beasts Head for Home is an acute novel of identity, belonging, and the vagaries of human behavior from an exceptional modern Japanese author.


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    The Ark Sakura

      Kōbō Abe
The Ark Sakura

A classic from the renowned Japanese novelist about isolation and the threat of a nuclear holocaust, The Ark Sakura is as timely today as it was at its original publication.

In this Kafkaesque allegorical fantasy, Mole has converted a huge underground quarry into an “ark” capable of surviving the coming nuclear holocaust and is now in search of his crew. He falls victim, however, to the wiles of a con man-cum-insect dealer. In the surreal drama that ensues, the ark is invaded by a gang of youths and a sinister group of elderly people called the Broom Brigade, led by Mole's odious father, while Mole becomes trapped in the ark's central piece of equipment, a giant toilet powerful enough to flush almost anything, including chopped-up humans, out to sea.


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    The Ruined Map

      Kōbō Abe
The Ruined Map

Of all the great Japanese novelists, Kobe Abe was indubitably the most versatile. With The Ruined Map, he crafted a mesmerizing literary crime novel that combines the narrative suspense of Chandler with the psychological depth of Dostoevsky.

Mr. Nemuro, a respected salesman, disappeared over half a year ago, but only now does his alluring yet alcoholic wife hire a private eye. The nameless detective has but two clues: a photo and a matchbook. With these he embarks upon an ever more puzzling pursuit that leads him into the depths of Tokyo's dangerous underworld, where he begins to lose the boundaries of his own identity. Surreal, fast-paced, and hauntingly dreamlike, Abe’s masterly novel delves into the unknowable mysteries of the human mind.
Translated from the Japanese by E. Dale Saunders.

From the Trade Paperback edition.


Read online