Synopses & Reviews
Critically acclaimed when first published in Japanese, the late Meisei Gotos novel Shot by Both Sides climbs inside a mind forever wounded by the childhood trauma of war, following one mans pursuit of his own history through an intense stream of consciousness with loops, flashbacks, and multiple digressions. Akaki, a middle-aged Japanese man in a business suit and overcoat, stands on a bridge in Tokyo, waiting for a friend to show up for an appointment. He recalls how he awoke that morning, suddenly overwhelmed with a desire to locate the military greatcoat he was wearing when he first arrived in Tokyo from his hometown in rural Kyushu twenty years before. Memories of the day he has just spent fruitlessly searching for the coat mingle with memories of his lonely, lust-drenched teen years as a poor country boy in Tokyoand with older memories from his childhood in northern Korea under Japanese colonial rule, when his dreams of becoming a military hero were lost along with his father in Japans defeat. Shot by Both Sides is an enlightening adventure of introspection and a stylistic triumph of unique power.
"Inspired by an impulsive urge to locate the old military greatcoat that accompanied him through his young adulthood, Akaki, a family man pushing middle age, retraces the steps that brought him from his childhood in North Korea to his current life on the outskirts of Soka, Japan. Through a series of overlapping digressions, late Korean-Japanese author Goto (1932 1999) plucks at the loose threads of his protagonist's life, beginning with childhood upheaval at the close of WWII, when his family was forced to flee North Korea for Japan. As the grown Akaki revisits old haunts, enquiring after friends and neighbors regarding his long-lost coat, more of his life story is revealed. While Goto conjures displacement and loss in some remarkable passages, particularly a scene in which young Akaki and his brother burn their belongings, the plot moves like a slow leak, occluded by Goto's meandering but gracefully written narrative. Still, fans of Japanese literature with the requisite patience should appreciate the novel's appearance in English, and may discover a new author to pursue." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)