#24 Fuminori Nakamura

Interview with Fuminori Nakamura

Fuminori Nakamura is a 35-years-old Japanese novel writer who has won several awards such as the Akutagawa Prize, and the Kenzaburō Ōe Prize. Not only in Japan but also in currently 9 countries in America, Europe, and Asia, his works are translated and reached many readers. We interviewed him on himself as a novel writer and his latest work, “The Thief” which has chosen as ‘The Best Novels of March 2012’ by Amazon.com, and as ‘The Best Novels of 2012’ by The Wall Street Journal, and also nominated to ‘The 2013 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes.’


– What did you feel when your latest work, “The Thief” was nominated to such a prize in the U.S.?


I felt extremely honored. In the first place, it is difficult for Japanese novels to be translated into English, so I was very happy that my work was translated. Later on, “The Thief” was awarded by Amazon.com, and The Wall Street Journals, which had already made me stunned. Then even it was nominated to ‘The 2013 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes.’ Anyways, I was very glad about that.

– What made you write “The Thief”?


In the beginning, I wanted to write about unique feelings that thieves encounter during pickpocketing, such as a nervousness running through fingers, and a change in their body temperatures. And also I was interested in writing about an idea: what if someone else controls one’s destiny and fate. It seems impossible for someone to fully control a man’s destiny, but it could be possible to certain degree. I felt that it would be terrifying. “The Thief” was born though these two ideas.

For the techniques of pickpocketing, I actually tried them out not only reading some books about them. I took a train with my friend and practiced pickpocketing his wallet of him. Though this practice, I could experience a unique moment and nervousness of pickpocketing. In order to make it without being noticed by anyone else, I began to consider the others and the world as looks. When a thief actually robs someone his hands are not exposed to eyes of people surrounding him, but somehow he feels like he is being watched by ‘something’ from above right his overhead. This ‘something’ is a ‘tower’ in the story; it might be a God-like existence. I even don’t know what that really is. I described that as a ‘tower’ which stands above the reach of mankind, because I believe that there might be something watching over people’s destinies.

– Could you explain more details about a ‘tower’?


In my story, there is a character being named Kizaki, who represents the ‘evil’ in Tokyo. He has a ‘notebook of destinies’ in his mind, and writes down someone else’s destiny in advance: trying to control destinies of people. In this time a destiny is decided by a power of mankind, but what is exactly a ‘density’? Is it whether Kizaki controls a thief or whether it was already set that this whole thing will happen? I thought that it would be interesting to think about those questions. However, the world would be too hard to live if all the destinies were already set. That’s why I made a last scene like that, with a hope that there should be free will of humans.