This review is about a book that I bought, started, and finished on the same day. Evil and the Mask by Fuminori Nakamura is told from the point of view of Fumihiro Kuki, a boy who was told by his father that he was ‘created to be a cancer on the world.’ His father tells him that it is the tradition of his family to bear a child solely for the purpose of bringing as much misery to the world as possible, and that as one of those children, Fumihiro will be educated on how to tap into the patterns of human nature, thereby learning how to exploit them.
From the time I read the summary on the back of the book, I was immediately hooked. It seemed like such an interesting concept, a book from the point of view of a boy who had been taught his whole life that he wasn’t meant to have true friends or relationships, who grew up with a father intent on bringing about the end of the world, who was meant to become a cruel man dedicated to hurting people in the worst ways imaginable. Reading the book was an interesting experience, and it acquainted me with an extremely different style of writing than I was used to. There are no pretty embellishments to the author’s sentences; they were straight, to the point, and blunt. Placed throughout the book were hidden concepts in simple sentences, making the reader have to really think about what the greater idea was, and connect statements made by an adult Fumihiro to the experiences and memories of child Fumihiro.
This book is so different from anything that I’ve ever read before; the concept and writing style make it a worthwhile read, regardless of whether you end up liking the plot or not. I recommend this to mature readers who are looking for some exposure to writing extremely different from that displayed by most Western authors, and who are aware and prepared for the fact that the book shows some pretty graphic depictions of under-age sex and violence.
Evil and the Mask was a big culture shock for me, and exposed me to thoughtful, gritty, and honest writing that didn’t have a clear right or wrong answer for the protagonist. For those who do end up reading it too, or have read it already, I sincerely hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.
-Keiko, (Dusen)Berry Blogger and member of the River Teen Advisory Board
Editor's note: although Keiko read this as a stand-alone, you may also be interested in checking out Nakamora's The Thief, which this is a sequel to.