A Man by Hirano Keiichiro

I just finished listening to my first novel by Hirano from Audiobook.jp. The story mostly follows Kido, a lawyer looking into a strange case where a woman finds, upon his unexpected death, that her husband wasn’t using his real name.

This story explores several themes. One is the dilemma facing Kido as he tries to find a balance between caring about ideals and focusing on his family. He is at odds with his wife for his decision to volunteer to give legal counsel for victims of the Tohoku Earthquake and his attitudes underlying that decision.

Another theme is racial discrimination. Kido is a naturalized third-generation Korean. He was raised Japanese, but discrimination subtly shows up at different times in his life. As a Japanese citizen, he is caught between identifying as both the perpetrator and victim of discrimination, raising challenging questions about his identity.

The third theme in this novel was whether when you love someone, do you love them from the moment you meet them, or do you also love their past. If that past turns out to be fictional do you still love them? I liked the character Misuzu’s reply to Kido when he was getting too caught up in this theoretical dilemma. “If you fall in love with someone once, that’s not all there is to it. Over time, you just have to fall in love over and over again.”

With the variety of themes covered in this novel, I’m not sure how they are all connected, and I would have to listen to it again to get a better idea. Overall I think the themes may be loosely tied together by the question, “what is happiness?”

After listening to the novel, I found that an English translation is available. Also, I realized that the translator, Eli K. P. William actually writes English novels as well and has been interviewed recently by my friend and fellow blogger at Self Taught Japanese.






聴き終わったら、この作品はすでに英語に翻訳されていると気づきました。翻訳家のEli K. P. Williamは作家でもあります。それに去年、友達のブログにインタビューが載せていると気づきました。英語のみですけど、面白いですから読んでください。

2 thoughts on “A Man by Hirano Keiichiro”

  1. It’s a small world (:

    Thanks for the review. Definitely sounds like some interesting themes, and I’m curious how they are all tied up together.

    In my experience with listening to audio narrations (mostly for short works though), often I will miss things and then when I actually sit down and read the text version, looking up words, my perspective on certain scenes changes. Though I guess often when I do this I am actually translating at the same time, and I feel the process of translation helps understand the original text––or should I say it requires understanding of it (at least for a proper translation).

    1. Yes, I’m thinking about reading Cash Crash Jubilee now.

      I have never tried reading a whole novel after listening to an audio book. It would be interesting to see. It would be different for me than with older works I have tried this with such as such as 檸檬 because I have to look a lot of words with those. I have considered trying to read 砂漠, which I have listened to parts of it several times, to see if I am missing anything.

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