cover image Nakamura Reality

Nakamura Reality

Alex Austin. Permanent, $29 (272p) ISBN 978-1-57962-409-5

Middle school teacher Hugh Mcpherson, the hero of playwright Austin’s challenging first novel, is at an Oceanside, Calif., beach with his 11-year-old twin sons, Takumi and Hitoshi, when a chance encounter with a former girlfriend distracts him. A short time later, the boys are gone. Hugh tries desperately to find them, without success. His Japanese wife, Setsuko, divorces him and returns to Japan to live with her father, bestselling author Kazuki Ono. Obsessed by grief and guilt, Hugh spends the next 12 years trying to solve the mystery of his sons’ disappearance. Their loss is reprised repeatedly in Kazuki’s novel in progress, in Hugh’s search, and in a seeming alternative universe in which Hugh surrogates forever lose their sons. Austin’s writing is powerful and moving, whether he’s describing Hugh’s heartrending quest or quoting passages from Kazuki’s novel. The book’s interplay between fantasy and reality demands close attention, but readers who make the effort will be more than amply rewarded. Agent: Claire Anderson-Wheeler, Regal Hoffmann & Associates. (Feb.)