Sayonara, Gangsters

Gangsters populate “Best of 2004” Lists, Including The Village Voice

Sayonara, Gangsters

By Genichiro Takahashi

Translated by Michael Emmerich
Postmodern Literature
Hardcover, 320 pages, 5.75 x 8 inches
978-1-932234-05-3 / 1-932234-05-5
U.S.$19.95 / CAN$25.95

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No literal description of Sayonara, Gangsters’ plot could ever hope to do it justice. The narrator is a poetry teacher named “Sayonara, Gangsters”—he’s named after a gang that’s been knocking off U.S. Presidents one after another in the novel’s facetious near-future. Unfolding through short sketches that often read like poetry or philosophical meditations, Sayonara, Gangsters is a hilarious and inventive postmodernist novel about language, expression, and the creative process from Haruki Murakami’s way-more-out-there literary cousin.

Genichiro Takahashi, b. 1951, never graduated from Yokohama National University. As a student radical, he was arrested and spent half a year in prison, a harrowing experience that rendered him incapable of reading or writing for several years. Sayonara, Gangsters took the literary establishment by storm and remains at the summits of postmodern writing in Japanese or any other language. Other novels by Takahashi include John Lennon vs. The Martians, A*D*U*L*T, and The Rise and Fall of Japanese Literature. Also a literary critic, he is the author of The Maybe-It’s-Not-Literature Syndrome and other popular collections. Winner of the Mishima and other coveted literary awards, Takahashi has been the best-kept secret of readers of Japanese… until now. Sayonara, Gangsters is his first full-length work to be published in English.

To see Genichiro Takahashi tour photos, click here.

“And now, for something completely different: Genichiro Takahashi’s Sayonara, Gangsters, in a sophisticated, eye-grabbing hardcover from Japanese pop-fiction powerhouse Vertical.”

“A brilliant book is a brilliant book, and no matter how far Takahashi’s prose wanders from the status quo, there’s no way in the world anyone could mistake its superiority.”
Las Vegas Mercury

“Part science fiction, part poetry, part philosophical treatise and noir thriller, with the odd graphic element tossed in, Sayonara, Gangsters is a playful blend, a true work of metafiction that never takes itself too seriously...Who says serious literature can't be fun?”
Grand Rapids Press

“Takahashi has dispensed with the commitment to realism that seems to inform most Japanese fiction, in favor of a richly playful style of storytelling that is fabulous… Think of Pynchon with an editor, Donald Barthelme but funnier, or Italo Calvino just as he is.”
The Japan Times

Sayonara, Gangsters is a light, poetic, enjoyable read, full of crafted imagery.”
The Onion A.V. Club

Sayonara, Gangsters is amazing…(it) is a virtuoso blending of humor, nuance, and absurdity. This is a novel that will immediately captivate daring readers.”
—Powell’s Books, Review-a-day

“The novel’s absurdities… neatly balance its tender, humane depictions of love and loss.”
The Washington Post

“Amusing, sexy, moving, intelligent and maddeningly obtuse—often all at once.”
Publishers Weekly

Sayonara, Gangsters is one of those rare books that actually defies description… It’s funny, sure. And beautiful. And slightly insane. And haunting. And heart-breaking. But all those words miss the point. The point is you have to read it. So read it.”
Jonathan Safran Foer

Sayonara, Gangsters… (is) a thrillingly unhinged perpetual-motion machine full of absurd sex and violence, greased with the awesome confidence of a writer so committed to thumbing his nose at convention that he discovers caverns of wonder deep within said schnozz.”
The Village Voice