A violent Japanese teen murders his father and tries to take control of his gaming business in Yu's lurid, graphic American debut. At 14, Kazu Yuminaga spends his days and nights roaming the slums of Yokohama, doing cocaine and getting into trouble with his friends; his violent tendencies suddenly escalate when he attacks the family housekeeper, then a valuable show dog and finally his father, who runs a lucrative string of casinos. Kazu manages to dispose of his father's body beneath the family home, but his attempt to seize the company goes sour when he has to make a series of problematic deals, first with his father's girlfriend and then with two company executives planning to block his takeover bid. The teenager tries to bribe his estranged mother to circumvent their opposition, but his plan unravels when he dives into a passionate affair with the family's new housekeeper, who demands that Kazu turn himself in when she realizes what he has done. Yu has some rough moments early on as she tries to establish sympathy for her emotionally and morally frozen protagonist, but once she hits her stride, the novel becomes a captivating analysis of a psychological meltdown. The ending, which features one of the most unlikely trips to the zoo in any recent novel, ventures into the surreal. Yu's approach and style may be an acquired taste, but her U.S. debut represents a new choice for American readers who enjoy Japanese fiction. (May)
Forecast:While this book was a bestseller in Japan, where Yu won the Akutagawa Prize, its graphic violence may limit it to a more limited audience here.