Saturday, May 07, 2011

JLit Preview: 'The Devil's Whisper' and 'The Sleeping Dragon' by Miyuki Miyabe

After a bit of an interruption, due to that darn earth shifting like it did, I'd like to restart previewing some Japanese literature here. As I mentioned in the introduction post, the idea behind these JLit Preview posts is to simply share with you some Japanese lit titles that I'm looking forward to reading. If you've already read any of these books, let me know and I'll add a link to your review. If you haven't, then hopefully you'll discover something new to read. Because we all like finding new books to covet, right? Today, tying in with the Hello Japan! mini-challenge for May, two books by the popular author Miyuki Miyabe.

The Devil's Whisper by Miyuki Miyabe
Original title: 魔術はささやく (Majutsu wa sasayaku)
First published in Japan, 1989
English translation, 2007, Kodansha International
Translated from the Japanese by Deborah Stuhr Iwabuchi
Miyabe is known for her slice-of-Japanese-life suspense novels - and The Devil's Whisper continues her winning ways. Three deaths come in quick succession: one girl jumps from the roof of a six-story building; another falls in front of a train; and a third is hit by a late-night taxi. But how are they related? And are they accidents, suicides... or murder?

Slowly, the answers are uncovered by sixteen-year-old Mamoru, the nephew of the unlucky taxi driver, who is being held by the police on charges of manslaughter.

Determined to help his uncle, the enterprising young man discovers that the girl who met her death under the wheels of his uncle's taxi had participated in a devious scam, and that three of the four girls involved are already dead. When a powerful businessman reveals new evidence that could free Mamoru's uncle, Mamoru decides he must not only clear his uncle's name but go all out to save the last of the four girls being targeted by the real killer.

And then the killer contacts him...
Buy The Devil's Whisper at: | | | 

The Sleeping Dragon by Miyuki Miyabe
Original title: 龍は眠る (Ryu wa nemuru)
First published in Japan, 1991
Winner of the Mystery Writers of Japan Award, 1992
English translation, 2009, Kodansha International
Translated from the Japanese by Deborah Stuhr Iwabuchi
A fierce typhoon strikes Tokyo one night, flooding the city streets. Someone removes a manhole cover, and a little boy out searching for his pet goes missing and is believed drowned in the sewers. Is it murder?

These events throw together a struggling journalist named Kosaka with two young men who may or may not have psychic powers. Forming an unlikely alliance, the three dig into the boy's disappearance. However, as a series of inexplicable events unfold, Kosaka wonders if his new young acquaintances haven't snared him in some kind of strange con game.

Then the journalist's former fiancée disappears. Known to still be harboring strong feelings for his now-married old girlfriend, Kosaka becomes the main suspect in the case.

With his reputation and personal life threatening to crumble altogether, Kosaka is forced to wrestle not only with life-threatening events but also his rising doubts about the two young men who have so suddenly appeared in his life.

Author Miyabe is a household name in Japan, and the author of over 40 titles to date in Japanese. This is her fifth mystery to appear in English translation. It combines the spare, hard-boiled tone of her popular first novel in English, All She Was Worth, with the paranormal themes of her more recent Crossfire, weaving together a comoplex web of crime and an exploration of human potential for greater power than we now know, a.k.a. The Sleeping Dragon.
Review of The Sleeping Dragon (The Japan Times)

Buy The Sleeping Dragon at: | | |

Like the blurbs say, Miyuki Miyabe is a very well-known author in Japan, not only of mysteries though, but also science fiction and for kids, among other genres. However, only a handful of her books have been translated into English and most of those are mysteries so, since May is Mystery Month, it's the perfect time to dive into these. I started The Devil's Whisper earlier today and it has kept me turning the pages every chance I get. I am quite looking forward to finding out how it all turns out. I hope to read The Sleeping Dragon this month as well.

I just have to comment that when I tried to look up the book blurbs online, I was sad all over again to see that the Kodansha International website has been replaced by a message of their closure. Of course Kodansha Ltd. and Kodansha USA are still around but it remains to be seen what kind of Japanese literature in translation they will, or won't, be publishing in the future. I guess we'll just have to wait and see, and enjoy their backlist in the meantime.

Have you read any of Miyuki Miyabe's books?

The small print: These books were received free of charge from the publisher for review purposes. Links in this post to Amazon or The Book Depository contain my Associates or Affiliates ID respectively. Purchases made via these links earn me a very small commission. For more information please visit my About Page.


  1. I haven't read any, but have just written her name down in my book wishlist notebook!

  2. Miyuki Miyabe is a new author for me, I haven't heard about her till yet. I've checked that her books were not translated into Polish, so I suppose I have to look for the English translation;)

  3. Owl59 here.
    I have just read “Devil’s Whisper” recently, inspired by your Hello Japan! mini-challenge. As you have tweeted, although Miyabe writes about the dark side of human nature, she always writes about the light side of human nature. That is why I like her. Although I thought “All She Was Worth”also by her is better written concerning describing human nature, “Devil’s Whisper” sure introduces intriguing mystery in the beginning of the story.

  4. I haven't read any of her mystery novels, but I have read Brave Story, one of her fantasy based children's novels. It gets pretty dark at times.

  5. I loved Crossfire by Miyabe, but I think that's the only work of hers I've read. I like when you give us these tidbits to look forward to. Are we still reading Woman in The Dunes for June 27th? I'm ready for some Japanese read-alongs with you, finally!

  6. Aw, that's sad about Kodansha International. I remember reading,t hough, that Kodansha took back a lot of their licenses from US publishing houses (or maybe just Tokyopop) so Kodansha USA could put out their own translations of things. I'm hoping that includes novels as well as manga-- and that they ARE, in fact, going to put out new books!

    Anyway, I haven't read any Miyuki Miyabe books yet but I've been wanting to read Brave Story and The Book of Heroes for a while now.

  7. I love that you read these - I would love to give one a try! Your posts about Japanese literature are always so interesting!

  8. I loved All She Was Worth and have been meaning to read more by Miyabe. Her novel was unsettling but at the same time gripping.

  9. I haven't read this author and have nothing to say! I just wanted to drop by and say hello, since I haven't been here for a while. Hope all is well. I noticed the earthquakes seem to have finally dropped off a bit. Wahoo for that! :)


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