(Original title: パプリカ)
Science Fiction, 1993 (English translation, 2009)
Alma Books, trade pb, 341 p.
Translated from the Japanese by Andrew Driver
When prototype models of a device for entering into patients’ dreams go missing at the Institute for Psychiatric Research, it transpires that someone is using them to manipulate people’s dreams and send them insane. Threatened both personally and professionally, brilliant psychotherapist Atsuko Chiba has to journey into the world of fantasy to fight her mysterious opponents.The blurb in the back for another of Tsutsui’s books calls that one “a masterpiece of surrealist literature” and Paprika could just as easily be labelled the same. What a bizarre, and utterly surreal story this was! Unlike Haruki Murakami’s surrealism though, which somehow comes across as plausible regardless of how improbable it is in actuality, this story was pure science fiction fancy from start to finish.
As she delves ever deeper into the imagination, the borderline between dreams and reality becomes increasingly blurred, and nightmares begin to leak into the everyday realm. The scene is set for a final showdown between the dream detective and her enemies, with the subconscious as their battleground, and the future of the waking world at stake.
I’m very new to the world of manga and anime, but I felt that Paprika had a definite manga/anime feel to it, with its exaggerated actions and vivid scenes. As I was reading, I could easily picture how some of the panels might look had it been drawn as a comic. I guess like how some books feel as if they’ve been written with a movie in mind, this one felt like it was written with a cartoon sensibility. It has been made into an anime movie (you can read about the film and watch the trailer at the film’s website), and watching the trailer, it’s very much like I imagined it.
Even though the main character is a woman, and much of the story is told from her perspective, this book was clearly written by a man. It’s a very macho story, with lots of action, and sex, and just the manner in which it was told screamed male author to me. There’s certainly nothing girly or sweet here. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just my observation, and it fits in with my feeling that it resembles a manga, at least like the ones that primarily target a male audience.
After the non-fiction and more serious fiction that I was reading earlier in the month, this was definitely a nice change of pace, and a fun story to get lost in for a few days.
Andrew Driver, the translator, on Paprika:
The greatest strength of Paprika lies in its creation and destruction of illusions, something quite characteristic of Japanese art in general and Tsutsui in particular. Paprika causes us to question the nature of illusion and reality, and the relationship between them. In the end, no one is really sure what actually happened – or whether anything happened at all.Interview with Yasutaka Tsutsui
Interview with the translator, Andrew Driver
Read an excerpt at the Alma Books website
Buy this book at: BookDepository.co.uk | BookDepository.com | Amazon.co.uk
Thank you to Clémence and Alma Books for the opportunity to read this book.
My Rating: 3/5
(#46 for 2009, Japanese Literature Challenge 3, Reading Japan Project, ARC Reading Challenge)
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