The Cage

The History of Violence goes yakuza

The Cage

By Kenzo Kitakata

Translated by Paul Warham
Trade Paperback, 228 pages, 5.5 x 8.25 inches
978-1-932234-24-4 / 1-932234-24-1
U.S.$14.95 / CAN$21.00

Buy this book.

“Manager Takino” is just trying to live a quiet life running a suburban supermarket when an old yakuza mate convinces him to help two lovers on the run from the mob escape the country. On his tail is Detective Takagi, a smooth noir fixture with a French cigarette always dangling from his mouth. The beast within Takino will chafe against the cage of domesticity in which he’s locked himself, and once he busts out there’ll be no going back.

From the award-winning author of Ashes and Winter Sleep comes another hardboiled page-turner. Kenzo Kitakata’s The Cage is one of very few genre titles to have been chosen by the Japanese Literature Publishing Project—an Agency of Cultural Affairs of Japan program that underwrites the translation and publication of contemporary fiction of social and artistic importance.

Kenzo Kitakata Kenzo Kitakata is the recipient of countless awards for his signature brand of hardboiled yakuza fiction, including the Japan Adventure Writing Association Award (1982), the Yoshikawa Eiji Award for Fiction (1983), the Japan Mystery Writers Association Award (1983, for The Cage), the Bungei Award (1985) and the Shiba Ryotaro Award (2005). A perennial bestseller, Kitakata is also a frequent commentator and panel judge for fiction awards.


“The spirit of James M. Cain’s novels hovers over Winter Sleep, a bleak but compelling slice of deadpan noir.”
The Seattle Times

“(Winter Sleep) gives new meaning to the term ‘splatter.’”
Agony Column

“Kitakata manages his nihilistic climax with consummate control… It’s absolutely compelling to read.”
The Japan Times

“Kitakata… [is] part Spillane, part Dostoevsky, but always hard-boiled.”


“Brilliantly contradictory… a refreshing crime novel from a notable Japanese author.”
Las Vegas Mercury

“A real gem.”

“Best enjoyed in a dimly lit, smoky room with a glass of whisky on the rocks close at hand… Kitakata has crafted a complex and contradictory character in Tanaka.”
Daily Yomiuri

“Male brutality suffuses Kenzo Kitakata’s portrait of a middle-aged gangster in Ashes. Like Tony Soprano…this man, whose name is Tanaka, attracts our interest and sometimes our sympathy.”
The Globe and Mail

“Superbly translated into English by Emi Shimokawa, Ashes is a gritty, hard-boiled mystery…Ashes depicts yakuza life with a unique understanding and edge-of-your seat reality.”
Midwest Book Review