One of these (p 25) is "Japanese crime: the next big thing?". Liz Foley, publishing director of Harvill Secker, gives her opinion about whether Japan will be the source of the first "post-Scandinavian" wave of bestsellers. She notes that crime fiction has a long tradition in Japan, starting with Edogawa Rampo
(1894-1965), who was apparently heavily influenced by Poe and Conan Doyle. Rampo transposed the classic theme of the gifted detective who uses deductive reasoning to solve seemingly impossible puzzles to investigate areas of tension in Japanese society.
Several other Japanese authors are discussed, particularly Natsuo Kirino, whose novels Out (review at The Game is Afoot), Grotesque and Real World focus on the role of women in society. I started Out once, but found it too harsh. Others are Miyuki Miyabe and Shuichi Yoshida, whose Japanese takes on themes such as identity theft, internet dating and the Yakuza all sound very tempting! The article also touches on David Peace's Tokyo Year Zero. Peace is a British writer (author of the Red Riding quartet) who explores Japanese society since the end of the Second World War in this novel (which, on flicking through it in a bookshop once, looks a bit challenging for me). There is no online version of newbooks, so I can point you to a round-up of crime fiction from Japan, including these authors, at Japan Visitor site (lots of ads I'm afraid). Euro
Crime blog (no ads!) also points to some Japanese crime fiction, via the excellent author Catherine Sampson.
Gillian Flynn's Dark Places is the reading-group recommendation in this issue of newbooks (p 32-33). The book is about a woman whose brother has been jailed for murdering the rest of the family while she, aged 7, hid in a cupboard. Twenty years later, she is confronted by a group of people who believe her brother is innocent, and she begins to question the evidence that convicted him. I quite liked the author's debut, Dark Places, but not enough to rush out and buy her second. Now, with all these glowing recommendations from different reading groups, I am seriously considering changing my mind.
Another crime article in the magazine is a long excerpt from August Heat by Andrea Camilleri, beautifully translated by Stephen Sartarelli. On p 58, the translator writes about the experience. "…..my wife, normally accustomed to hearing me curse aloud at my desk or hurl books against the wall in despair over the sentences of my authors – whose number has included a post-Heideggerian Neoplatonic ex-Communist philosopher and a proto-Hegelian-post-Freudian-neo-Gnostic poverista art critic — my wife, I say, nearly fainted when, passing by my open study door as I was working hard on my first Camilleri novel, she actually heard me laughing."