The Ghosts of Nagasaki by Daniel Clausen (2012)
Fiction | Magical Realism
“One night a foreign business analyst in Tokyo sits down in his spacious high rise apartment and begins typing something. The words pour out and exhaust him. He soon realizes that the words appearing on his laptop are memories of his first days in Nagasaki four years ago.
Nagasaki was a place full of spirits, a garrulous Welsh roommate, and a lingering mystery.
Somehow he must finish the story of four years ago–a story that involves a young Japanese girl, the ghost of a dead Japanese writer, and a mysterious island. He must solve this mystery while maneuvering the hazards of middle management, a cruel Japanese samurai, and his own knowledge that if he doesn’t solve this mystery soon his heart will transform into a ball of steel, crushing his soul forever. Though he wants to give up his writing, though he wants to let the past rest, within his compulsive writing lies the key to his salvation.”
pooled ink Review:
I was intrigued when Clausen contacted me about his book. After reading what it was about I let my curiosity push me to accept.
Perhaps it’s a bit slow to begin for my taste but right when this thought murmurs in my mind everything changes. Like lights winking out across a city an unsettling but curious shift ripples across our protagonist’s life and no longer can the word “mundane” describe what follows.
Ghosts are everywhere. They are memories that linger and they are something more. They flit through the story giving it something between a literal haunting and a metaphorical statement.
“So, you like to write?”
“No,” I say honestly. “I desperately want to quit, but I can’t.”
The protagonist, a foreign business analyst, finds himself strangely compelled to write. His hands reach for his computer and his fingers type the start of something unexpected but demanding to be concluded.
For the most part he’s unhappy, searching for something he’s not even sure of but living each day the same as before. His raw emotions leak out from the intimate telling of this story and it’s effortless to feel his pain and loss. But it’s not all sadness and gray colors. There are plenty of moments providing blessed comic relief that keep the story moving forwards and alive. This book pulls you to think, tugs you to feel, nudges you to listen. It’s not a particularly long book but it’s not a bit of fluff either.
Overall I found Clausen’s writing to be skillful, his storytelling compelling, and this book mysterious and enjoyable. I’m glad he crossed my path giving me the chance to read this novel. If you’re looking for an interesting read to accompany that black coffee you guzzle for breakfast then consider The Ghosts of Nagasaki.
Purchase here: The Ghosts of Nagasaki
Meet Daniel Clausen!
Daniel has wanted to be a writer ever since he was in elementary school.He has published stories and articles in such magazines as Slipstream, Black Petals, Spindrift, Zygote in my Coffee, and Leading Edge Science Fiction (and many others). He has also written six books.