From Japan’s Neil Gaiman
The Summer of the Ubume
By Natsuhiko Kyogoku
Mystery / Horror
Paperback, 320 pages, 5.5 x 8.25 inches
U.S.$16.95 / CAN$19.95
A bizarre set of mysteries have befallen the Kuonji household. Kyoko Kuonji is said to be with child for the last twenty months, and her husband Makio disappeared a few months prior to the prgnancy. The odd circumstances have left the family with no one to turn to for help, until a freelance writer asks his exorcist friend to take on the case. The catch—the exorcist does not believe in ghosts. To Akihiko “Kyogokudo” Chuzenji, the supernatural is as much metaphysical and mental as it is unearthly.
The Summer of the Ubume was the debut work by the Neil Gaiman of Japanese mystery fiction —Natsuhiko Kyogoku. Weaving together intrigue and Kyogoku’s passion for Japanese folklore, particularly the paranormal and preternatural, this Summer gives birth to a new form of Japanese fiction.
“Shock Value: A. Natsuhiko Kyogoku weaves an absolutely amazing and enthralling tale throughout, but the real treat isn’t the mystery, it’s the way Kyogoku uses the story to introduce ideas… This is probably the best book I’ve read all year. Highly recommended.”
“Though witches no longer walk the woods of Kyogoku’s modern Japan, the minds that created them certainly do. The Summer of the Ubume is an entertaining reminder of how far we haven’t come, that the real progress to be made is in getting to know ourselves.”
—Words Without Borders
“As readers we are given a valuable and fascinating insight and snapshot of a period in Japan’s social history that makes the book a fascinating read… As with all intelligent literature, it’s worth putting in the attention it demands, as watching the mystery unravel and reach its startling, dark climax is another joy altogether.”
—Tim Maughan Books
“If you enjoy psychological mysteries, I highly recommend buying this book or asking your local public library to buy it for you. It is one of the best mysteries I’ve read all year.”
Born in 1963, Natsuhiko Kyogoku is an expert in Japanese folklore with a special interest in supernatural entities called “yokai.” Having never published before, he brought the manuscript of The Summer of the Ubume to publishing giant Kodansha on his own. The unusual nature of how The Summer of the Ubume got published and its subsequent success inspired the creation of the Mephisto Award, which honors new mystery and fantasy writers. The Summer of the Ubume is the first in a series of nine novels, the second of which earned Kyogoku the Japan Mystery Writers Award in 1994. Kyogoku would go on to win the prestigious Naoki Award for his book Requiem from the Darkness in 2004.