Genichiro Takahashi, , trans. from the Japanese by Michael Emmerich. . Vertical, $19.95 (311pp) ISBN 978-1-932234-05-3

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.