A devilishly intelligent new novel by the internationally bestselling author and Prix Médicis winner.
A black writer from Montreal has found the perfect title for his next book: I Am a Japanese Writer. His publisher gives him an advance on the strength of the title alone. The problem is, he can't seem to write a word of it. He can scarcely summon the energy to put pen to paper, and so he nurses his writer's block by taking long baths, re-reading the works of Japanese poet Basho and engaging in amorous intrigues with rising pop star Midori and her entourage of vampire girls. For the writer, though, the title isn't just a title: he really does believe he is a Japanese writer. He makes this declaration in a mall, and, the next thing he knows, he's an international celebrity. The book becomes a cult phenomenon, even though he still hasn't written a word of it. In Japan, it sets off a cultural revolution. A Japanese writer even publishes a book called I Am a Malagasy Writer. On the nightly news, a Japanese officer declares, "I Am a Korean Soldier." No wonder a pair of attachés from the Japanese embassy has been following our hero around. At first, he is delighted to discover his celebrity. But things quickly go wrong. Part postmodern fantasy, part Kafkaesque nightmare and part travelogue to the inner reaches of the self, I Am a Japanese Writer calls into question everything we think we know about what-and who-makes a work of art.
"Laferriere...writes movingly and cleverly about race, nationality, and, ultimately, the multiple conflicting ways we form our identities. His prose, in this case ably translated by his longtime translator David Homel, is deadpan and devious."
"[I Am a Japanese Writer] is all about place and identity, names and nationality and the paradoxical relationship between rigid lines of nationalism and the fluidity of the individual. Episodic and picaresque, it is a humorous look at identity and nationality, writing and the mind of a writer...This is a deceptively painless read, when really it's a complex, multi-faceted look at race, identity, art and culture."
"It's a wonderful, existential conceit: The book we're reading is being written as we read it."
"I Am a Japanese Writer's narrative self-awareness is its greatest strength...[Laferriere's] penchant for pithy, wide-ranging cultural commentary is entertaining, particularly in the novel's early sections."
"Recommended for fans of absurdist literature like that written by Kurt Vonnegut and Harold Pinter."
"A quirky yet unique read of celebrity and wishes gone wrong, I am a Japanese Writer is a choice pick for literary fiction collections, highly recommended."
"I Am a Japanese Writer sees Laferriere challenge his readers in a way that can best be described as part Kafkaesque nightmare and Woody Allen acid test...The novel has a strong odour of nationalistic pride...relentlessly pushing the boundaries of unwarranted celebrity and manufactured cult phenomena to unimaginable and absurd degrees of sarcasm."
"In his unique fashion, Laferriere captures the spirit of our culture, where cultural boundaries are erased and the real and the unreal intimately coexist."
"Vonnegut once called him the 'fastest titler in America,' yet Dany Laferriere is even more than that. Funny, direct and true, Laferriere is among the most living of this continent's living writers."
"Fans of international literature will find much that is familiar in I Am a Japanese Writer. The book bears a kinship, in terms of design, to European novels like Italo Calvino's If On a Winter's Night a Traveller. In tone, Laferriere employs a poetic sensibility achieved through brief, elliptical chapters."