David Peace: Tokyo Year Zero

<p><em>Graeme Neill writes:</em></p>
<p>It seemed like I was one of the few people left on the planet who hadn't read and raved about David Peace's <em>The Damned United</em> so I was rather intrigued by his latest novel <em>Tokyo Year Zero</em> (out from Faber in September). <img width="240" height="240" border="1" align="right" src="/documents/UserContributed/519eIu8K22L__AA240_.jpg" alt="" /></p>
<p>While it has what would have been a brilliant title for a Japanese monster movie, it actually depicts a shattered Japan trying to rebuild one year after the Second World War. Detective Minami is a member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police department, charged to investigate two murders. The police department (and wider Japan) is full of people who have assumed new identities in the wake of the war in a bid to escape their pasts. However, Minami has no choice to face up to his past as he realises it is inextricably linked to the murders.</p>
<p>I cannot remember the last time I had been so unsettled by a book. The prose is almost skin-crawling as Peace immerses you in the disturbing life of Minami and his obsessive compulsions, his constant vomiting and &quot;gari-gari&quot; - Japanese for the sound of scratching.</p>
<p>However, the story is so well handled that while you are repulsed by what you are reading, you are constantly driven to carry on. Along with the detective story, the depiction of a society ravaged by war, torn apart by ethnic groups and ruled by an occupying force also has interesting parallels with modern day Iraq.</p>
<p><em>Tokyo Year Zero</em> is not an easy read but considering the starkly bleak subject matter, it is all the better for it. I just hope I don't feel as disturbed when I get around to reading Peace's take on Brian Clough.</p>