The Ghosts of Nagasaki by Daniel Clausen

By reading the back cover blurbs and synopsis in Goodreads, I was expecting a part spook-fest and part mystery novel but it wasn't.

The ghosts here do not really spook as they pop anywhere like an annoying stalker and when I encounter an eight-foot tall dragon glittering, while puffing a cigarette, I thought this was less a ghost story/the "Sixth Sense" and more like a "Never Ending Story" for grown ups. But I agree with readers in saying that this one is tautly written, the length of the story was never rushed nor extended and the characters were colorful and vivid, as real as the bad-mofo roommate archetype you always see in Hollywood movies. Imagining the dragon singing a Cat Stevens song is simply hilarious.

But once again, this is not Urban Fantasy. My reading  experience for this book can be summarized in three distinct transitions: from a perspective of a simple ghost story, to urban fantasy and conclusively, as magic realism. Daniel Clausen likes Haruki Murakami novels and I can see it in this novel. Murakami readers and fans will surely like this book and I recommend it.

References to the '80s pop culture is quiet amusing for this reader also loves watching the original run of MacGyver series when he was still a kid.  Though we know that all authors are not free from political or ideological bias, a gaijin view of the Japanese landscape and culture here is very noteworthy. You can see that Clausen appreciate the simplistic beauty of the Japanese countryside. Though it's not one of my favorite genre today, as a reader, I appreciate magic realism if it's highly symbolic and it will really help this book if Clausen redesigns the cover to be more symbolic of Nagasaki the way he wants the world to know more about the city.

Watch out for Inoue!
photo © Felice Beato
Memorable line:
"How to describe where I work? We're all highly paid analysts, senior analysts, such-and-such specialists, and so on. Out titles sound very impressive and very expensive, but deep down in our souls we're all failed artists, movie stars, poets, and preachers. In other words, it's your typical office."

Genre: Magic Realism
Rating: 3.5 cans of nama biru

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