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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Goodnight Tokyo

Yoshida Atsuhiro

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To purchase Goodnight Tokyo

Title: Goodnight Tokyo
Author: Yoshida Atsuhiro
Genre: Novel
Written: 2018 (Eng. 2024)
Length: 174 pages
Original in: Japanese
Availability: Goodnight Tokyo - US
Goodnight Tokyo - UK
Goodnight Tokyo - Canada
Bonne nuit Tôkyô - France
Gute Nacht, Tokio - Deutschland
Buonanotte Tōkyō - Italia
from: Bookshop.org (US)
  • Japanese title: おやすみ、東京
  • Translated by Haydn Trowell

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Our Assessment:

B : nicely woven-together ensemble piece

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
FAZ . 27/7/2022 Steffen Gnam
La Stampa . 20/1/2024 Elena Masuelli

  From the Reviews:
  • "Jedoch ist es weniger die schrill-popkulturelle Metropole, die im Buch dominiert, als die selbstvergessene, mit sich ringende, aus der Zeit gefallene Stadt. In Yoshidas Universum kreuzen und entzweien sich Gestrandete, Nachteulen und Nerds, anonyme Großstädter und Globalisierungsverlierer, Menschen auf der Suche nach dem missing link zum Glück oder auch nur nach einem spät geöffneten Imbiss mit „Ham & Eggs“. (…) Die Helden des Romans lernen, dass Weiterkommen auch Innehalten und Neujustieren der Stellschrauben des Schicksals bedeuten kann. (…) Gute Nacht, Tokio ist eine zarte Ode auf die Rätsel, Tücken und Frustrationstoleranzen, aber auch unerwarteten Glücksmomente des Lebens. Zugleich taugt der Roman als Ratgeberliteratur und Traumerfüllungsfibel." - Steffen Gnam, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • "Buonanotte Tōkyō di Yoshida Atsuhiro alza l’asticella dei feel good, con cui condivide la leggerezza, la gentilezza che non è rassegnazione. La bella scrittura rende atmosfere e sentimenti." - Elena Masuelli, La Stampa

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       In a short Afterword author Yoshida describes Goodnight Tokyo as a variation on the apparently common serial short story collection that can be read as a novel (such as, presumably, Ogawa Yōko's Revenge), noting that his is, beyond that: "a collection of intersecting short stories" -- in this case: "a collection of serial short stories that can be enjoyed as ten books in one".
       Spanning more than a year, the twelve chapters of Goodnight Tokyo are almost entirely set in the dead of night. One of the chapters begins: "1:00 A.M. rolled around once more" and while some of the action takes places earlier in the days they all begin pretty much -- and often precisely -- at that hour, as:

     That time came around every day. The seasons could come and go, but 1:00 A.M. was a guaranteed constant.
       Predictably then, this is a novel filled with night-owls. One connecting element is Matsui, a taxi driver who works for Blackbird, "specializing in serving customers from evening through to early morning", who ferries a number of the other characters all over Tokyo. There's also the all-night diner, Yotsukado, where Matsui is a regular and he and some of the other characters come to grab a bite at these off-hours. There's also the second-hand shop Ibaragi, "a veritable house of curiosities" (in which almost all the objects for sale are broken ...), whose hours are from 9:00 PM to 4:00 AM (unsurprisingly, business is not good). One character has the overnight shift at a help-line call center -- "famous throughout the city as a sanctuary for lost souls" --, while another picks up and disposes of old telephones when people no longer need their landlines, at any time of the day or night, operating a: "sort of phone funeral business". There's also Mitsuki, working for a film company and in charge of procuring props -- doing much of her work late at night, she frequently relies on Matsui as she seeks out places where she might obtain some of the harder-to-find objects needed for the film projects. And there's a man presenting himself as Detective Shuro -- a figure from a film but also a real-life seeker, who goes to late-night screenings of films his father was in.
       Film -- both productions and screenings -- play a significant role in the stories, with a dormitory of eleven aspiring actresses also figuring in the narratives, and as the chapters unfold connections are found and made through these.
       The darkness of night veils much -- but darkness creeps in elsewhere, too, including memorably in a small bar which is practically pitch-black inside. Even the streets can seem so much the same that Matsui relies on GPS to orient himself at times.
       Each chapter does not focus simply on one or another set of characters, but rather on the same night or nights, shifting between various errands and activities that various characters are involved in, actions unfolding in parallel (and occasional overlap). Connections are made and sought, with the overlaps of storylines also revealing other connections -- including several that have been, for differing lengths of time, broken; notably, several characters are looking, in one way or another, for specific people whom they've lost touch and contact with.
       While some of the characters are stressed -- Mitsuki often feels the pressure of deadlines, for example -- there's a sense of time proceeding differently at these unusual hours, the drift of long, late nights which Yoshida conveys well. There are some glimpses of the everyday bustle of the metropolis, but Yoshida focuses on another, much quieter side of Tokyo. Pretty much all the scenes are the opposite of crowded, with characters often finding themselves practically alone, whether on the road, in the streets, a movie theater, or the Ibaragi shop -- an effective way of concentrating all attention on the characters and what they are going through and looking for.
       Goodnight Tokyo is a solid variation on the city-novel, following a large cast of characters. There's a sense of most of them wandering -- not so much adrift but with varying senses of purpose, sometimes immediate (the props Mitsuki looks for; the telephones that Moriizumi picks up), sometimes vaguer (Detective Shuro's quest); many have found a place (Ibaragi and his shop; the four women who run the diner) or role they're comfortable with, but there's still a sense of looking for something more and beyond, especially some connection with others.
       It's a solid, atmospheric ensemble-piece, neatly meshed together, an engaging slice of Tokyo and its inhabitants (and, more generally, how individuals cope in an enormous and often impersonal metropolis) as seen from an unusual all-night vantage point.

- M.A.Orthofer, 12 May 2024

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Goodnight Tokyo: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Japanese author Yoshida Atsuhiro (吉田篤弘) was born in 1962.

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© 2024 the complete review

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