Synopses & Reviews
If you've ever despaired of expressing yourself, you'll read Sayonara, Gangsters
and understand. Set in a facetious near-future that is both mind-bendingly bizarre and achingly familiar. Sayonara, Gangsters
is an inventive novel about language, expression and the creative process that unfolds through hilarious sketches. The peaceful if bizarre life of a poetry teacher is forever transformed by a group of terrorists called "the gangsters" in what is, incredibly, a semi-autobiographical novel.
On this literary gonzo trip in which a man of letters finds out, too late, that flirting with extremist politics can have unsavory conequences for one's mind, we encounter the likes of Virgil, the refrigerator (a memorable three-dimesional character) and "Henry IV" the feline aficionado of books. Endlessly resourceful, relentlessly erudite, but always accessible, Sayonara, Gangsters is a unique masterpiece of literary postmodernism that aims to entertain rather than to intimidate.
From the outrageous beginning, which reads like an oblique reference to the war on terror but is no such thing (it was written more than twenty years ago), to the sobering, devastating end, through the lyrical, poignant middle, Takahashi's legendary first novel is candy for your brain. Sayonara, Gangsters is a must-read for all fans of world literature, available for the first time in English.
"Takahashi's first novel to be translated into English can be amusing, sexy, moving, intelligent and maddeningly obtuse often all at the same time. Which is exactly what Takahashi, acclaimed author of postmodernist romps and former porn director, intends. Somewhere in a future time and place, people have no names. Lovers find this inconvenient, so they begin naming each other. The two main characters settle on the following names: the woman is the Nakajima Miyuki Song Book, and the man, who teaches at a poetry school, is Sayonara, Gangsters. Their cat, who prefers milk-and-vodka and is a great fan of Aristotle, is named Henry IV. The first of the book's three parts tells the story of Sayonara, Gangsters's former lover, 'the woman,' and their daughter, named both Caraway and Green Pinky. One day the couple receive a postcard from City Hall that reads, 'We Were So Sorry to Learn of the Death of Your Daughter.' Sayonara, Gangster then describes Caraway's removal to the Children's Graveyard, where she is deposited in a cork-lined metal case. In the second section, Sayonara, Gangster explains his work at the poetry school, with a long disquisition on the death of poetry by the poet Virgil, who has metamorphosed into a refrigerator. The last section is an action-filled account of three gangsters who come to be taught poetry and who are killed after a gunfight with a detachment of armored police. Emmerich's playfully virtuosic translation makes all this more fun than work, rendering Takahashi's mischievous tale in candy-coated prose. Agent, Jennifer Lyons at Writers House (Apr. 1) Forecast:A blurb from Jonathan Safran Foer should attract the right kind of readers. Booksellers can also recommend Takahashi to fans of Haruki Murakami's marginally more sober work." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The novel's absurdities...neatly balance its tender, humane depictions of love and loss." Washington Post
"Sayonara, Gangsters is one of those rare books that actually defies description....It's funny, sure. And beautiful. And slightly insane. And haunting. And heart-breaking. But all those words miss the point. The point is you have to read it. So read it." Jonathan Safran Foer
"Sayonara, Gangsters...(is) a thrillingly unhinged perpetual-motion machine full of absurd sex and violence, greased with the awesome confidence of a writer so committed to thumbing his nose at convention that he discovers caverns of wonder deep within said schnozz." Village Voice
Here is an awesomely inventive novel about language, expression, and the creative process that courageously refuses to take refuge in pretentious inaccessibility. No literal description of Sayonara, Gangsters plot could ever do it justice you gotta read it to understand it.
No literal description of Sayonara, Gangsters' plot could ever hope to do it justice. The narrator is a poetry teacher named "Sayonara, Gangsters" he's named after a gang that's been knocking off U.S. Presidents one after another in the novel's facetious near-future. Unfolding through short sketches that often read like poetry or philosophical meditations, Sayonara, Gangsters is a hilarious and inventive postmodernist novel about language, expression, and the creative process from Haruki Murakami's way-more-out-there literary cousin.
About the Author
Genichiro Takahashi never graduated from Yokohama National University. As a student radical, he was arrested and spent half a year in prison, a harrowing experience that rendered him incapable of reading or writing for several years. Sayonara, Gangsters took the literary establishment by storm and remains one of the summits of postmodern writing in Japanese or any other language. Winner of the Mishima and other coveted literary awards, Takahashi has been the best-kept secret of readers of Japanese. Sayonara, Gangsters is his first full-length work to be published in English.