Shield Me from the Light

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Shield Me from the Light
Author: Fuminori Nakamura
Specifications: ISBN  978-4101289533
155 pages
10.2 x 15.2 cm / 4.1 x 6.1 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Shinchosha Publishing Co., Ltd.
Tokyo, 2004
Awards: Noma Prize for New Writers, 2004
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This novella is narrated by a young male university student whose live-in girlfriend dies suddenly. The student lost his own parents when he was young and, perhaps as a result of being passed from one set of foster parents to another, has grown up to be a pathological liar. It's hard to tell when his behavior is genuine and when it's simply an act. A college friend describes him as "an incorrigible fibber, hollow inside, obsessive, mad." The narrator only really loves one person?Miki, a former sex worker who wants him to stay with her forever. Miki, however, is killed when a truck hits her. The narrator rushes to the hospital. Using a lighter to burn through the surgical sutures on Miki's left little finger, he removes the finger from her corpse and runs off. Placing the finger in a small glass bottle full of formalin, he wears it next to his skin at all times. Meanwhile, he assures acquaintances that Miki is happily studying at a college in the United States. Now, however, the narrator starts drinking and behaving wildly. Late one night he forces his way into the apartment of Ikumi, a mutual friend of Miki and his, and tries?unsuccessfully?to rape her. He then tells Ikumi about Miki's death and her little finger. But just as he finishes his confession, Ikumi's boyfriend barges in on them, and the narrator kills him. The novella is electrifying in its evocation of the emotions of a young man floundering between love and madness.