Tokyo Year Zero (2 stars)

Tokyo Year Zero

David Peace



Tokyo Year Zero is unrelentingly miserable. A revolving recurrence of the same events, punctuated by endlessly repeated fragments of the narrator’s stream of consciousness, hammering, scratching and ticking, it is also, at least in parts, nigh on incomprehensible. Tokyo, August 1946. As Japan suffers its defeat by American forces, the bodies of two women are found in Shiba Park. Crumbling Detective Minami is assigned to the case and, faced with the horrors he encounters during the investigation, suffers a nervous breakdown, culminating in an overdose of barbiturates and self-castration. At least I think that’s what happened; the description, thankfully, wasn’t terribly clear.

The novel could work as an intense portrayal of disintegration if it were much shorter, but David Peace seems to mistakenly think that excessive repetition creates greater impact. The truly moving words, because of their simplicity, are those of the real-life man on whom the culprit was based and who was executed for the murders.

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