Winter Sleep

An Artist’s Mad Drive For Growth From One of the World’s Great Stylists

Winter Sleep

By Kenzo Kitakata

Translated by Mark Schilling
Trade Paperback, 288 pages, 5.5 x 8.25 inches
978-1-932234-13-8 / 1-932234-13-6
U.S.$14.95 / CAN$19.95

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The legendary Japanese master’s Winter Sleep takes you into the hardboiled world of art—where ex-cons are philosophers, young lovers are combustible, and aesthetics is life.

Nakagi, an ex-con painter who has sequestered himself in a mountain cabin, is trying to elevate his art. The only thing breaking his solitude are the visits of two women: an art dealer who wants him to produce the sort of paintings that she would like to buy from him, and a young, aspiring, and soulful apprentice. When Nakagi welcomes an escaped felon into the emotionally fraught fold, and begins to teach him to paint as well, Winter Sleep awakens to a literally incendiary climax.

Kenzo Kitakata Kenzo Kitakata is the undisputed don of hardboiled and mystery writing in Japan. Of his over one hundred novels, Winter Sleep is his second to appear in English. His first, Ashes, was one ofLas Vegas Mercury’s 10 Best Novels of 2003, a BookSense Selection, and a Village Voice Summer Read.

Mark Schilling is the author of The Yakuza Movie Book: A Guide to Japanese Gangster Films.

Kitakata is recently the recipient of the Eiji Yoshikawa Award, given to revered veteran entertainment authors.

“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