Wonderfully surreal, painfully real, this is the story of a Japanese salaryman who loses his job at a TV corporation, on his 40th birthday, and slips through to a different layer of society, a shadowy world where curious characters show him the way - a travelling salesman with a passion for Elvis, a pachinko pro with dreams of returning to Hawaii, and a TV producer who will stop at nothing to get his big break - and Kenji sets off on a roller-coaster ride of misadventures. He tries to make money from the pachinko machines - and succeeds - but his conventional, snobbish hardworking wife finds this demeaning. He has a hated mother-in-law who's a genius at winning magazine competitions and knows the wife of a bank manager. So our hero ends up instead in the postroom of a huge bank...With a little help from his friends, he makes his way out and via a bizarre chain of happenstance (including being struck by lightning while wielding a golf club) finds himself responsible for a TV reality game show so weirdly believable that some crazed tv executive may well be pitching it now. Against all odds, the salaryman dies - to be reborn as a human being.
Fresh, original and funny without signalling its humour, this astonishing debut novel brilliantly captures the fast-changing culture of Japan (where the author lived and worked for a brief period) and its surreal underside in an engaging portrait of an ordinary man battling with the contradictory demands of contemporary life.
Fiona Campbell is a formidably bright 32-yr-old science graduate who studied psychology and zoology at Bristol University and UCL. She then moved to Tokyo to work for Unilever, and while she was there she began writing. On her return to the UK, she completed this novel for the Manchester Metropolitan Writing MA, and she currently works as a policy director for environmental campaigns in Liverpool.