It Pays to Pray

A Guru is Born

By Takeshi Kitano

Translated by Dawn T. Laabs
Fiction / Literary / Novel
Paperback, 208 pages, 5.5 x 8.25 inches
U.S.$13.95 / CAN$15.95

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After losing his job and his girlfriend, Kazuo is desperate to look for a new beginning. While bumming around, he is handed a pamphlet announcing the arrival of a Guru. Despite being convinced the faith healer is a con, he decides to attend the event and is surprised to find himself a quick convert after witnessing one of the Guru's "miracles."

As a new member of this religious sect, he soon discovers his intuition was correct, it was all a scam. After begging to join the cult, Kazuo quickly moves up the ladder from pamphlet distributor to pathetic cripple in the Guru's public performances. And before he knows it, the young man may have found his calling as he ascends to the cult's leader.

"Beat" Takeshi Kitano is one of the most widely recognized Japanese filmmakers to date, and can be largely credited for the popularity of yakuza (Japanese gangster) fiction and film. In A Guru is Born, Beat returns to his comedic origins as, through this dark comedy, he focuses his attention on the economic power of religious organizations.

Takeshi KitanoTakeshi Kitano is the recipient of the Golden and Silver Lion Prizes, Venice Film Festival, for Hana-bi and Zatoichi. He is also the author of many prose works ranging from memoirs and fiction to social criticism and interview collections. Before he achieved worldwide fame he was one of Japan’s most popular television personalities, which he continues to be, thanks to his sharp eye and irreverent sense of humor. Mr. Kitano lives and works in Tokyo.

“The greater themes of finding religion and what exactly it means to you are worth thinking about, especially in the way that Kitano presents it...[A Guru is Born] is just another feather in an already talented artist's cap. Recommended”

“Boy was a good taste of [Kitano]'s talent; A Guru Is Born is even more ambitious and rewarding... I started with a book about the role of religion in modern life, and ended with one about the abuse of power, intentional and un-, and also a sobering answer to the question of with how little wisdom the world really is governed.”
Genji Press

A Guru is Born is a fun little story... Anyone who knows a thing about screenwriting can see the basic structure of a studio film in the plot, with act breaks, turning points, and climaxes all where they should be. It moves along nicely, the rhythms almost predictable, though comforting.”
Jun Bungaku

Praise for Takeshi Kitano:

“The beginnings of Kitano’s intense and personal style can be seen in the three early stories contained in BOY. They offer insights into the later films and they have been extremely well translated by David James Karashima, who beautifully captures both the deadpan drollery and the wistful sentimentality.”
—Donald Richie, The Japan Times

BOY’s three ostensibly lighthearted tales, so personal in tone and intimate in details about drinking fathers, frightened brothers, and bullying classmates, put Kitano’s identification with children in a clarifying light.”
—Lisa Schwarzbaum,