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The Thief (Kizaki #1)

3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  2,108 ratings  ·  330 reviews
A literary crime masterpiece that follows a Japanese pickpocket lost to the machinations of fate. Bleak and oozing existential dread, The Thief is simply unforgettable.

The Thief is a seasoned pickpocket. Anonymous in his tailored suit, he weaves in and out of Tokyo crowds, stealing wallets from strangers so smoothly sometimes he doesn’t even remember the snatch. Most peo
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Hardcover, 211 pages
Published March 20th 2012 by Soho Crime (first published October 10th 2009)
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Cynthia
Film Noir meets Georges Simenon

“The Thief” was amazingly good. It’s about a Tokyo pick pocket who gets caught up with some big time criminals. It’s a very short book so I was shocked at how psychological it was. I’m not sure how the author was able to include such an in depth take on Nishimura, the main character in so few words. Nishimura spends his days on packed trains and packed streets finding his mark and swiftly moving in. He has standards though. He only takes the cash and puts the rest
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Virginia
One star? Three stars? Five stars? I have no clue, and that about sums up my experience with this book. I landed on three because the book was intruiging and thought-provoking, but I just couldn't connect with it.

Maybe my expectations were too high because of the book's awards, too high because they were inaccurately based on an Americanized version of what "thriller" usually means, or because I read it too fast and should have savored it instead. The book didn't demand that the reader stop and
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Vegantrav
The title character, the thief, is a highly skilled pickpocket who is commissioned, against his will, to carry out three jobs--all of which involve some very delicate picking of pockets, much more complicated than merely lifting wallets--for a crime boss, Kizaki.

If the thief fails, Kizaki will kill him, and the thief has no doubt that Kizaki will follow through.

Kizaki likes to rhapsodize about fate. Is the thief's fate controlled by Kizaki, or is it that the thief is fated to be controlled by Ki
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Tony
Despite being regularly underwhelmed by Japanese crime fiction, I continue to pick it up in the hopes of finding a writer or story that clicks. Unfortunately, this book proved to be another dud. The story follows a highly talented pickpocket who meets up with an old friend/criminal and gets sucked into a scheme masterminded by a mysterious man. He is made the proverbial offer he can't refuse -- a series of increasingly difficult thefts that he must complete or he will be killed. This could theor ...more
Path Kittinat
ตอนอานหนังสือเลมนีจบ ผมกำลังนังอยูใตตนมะยม ลมกำลังพัดเอือยๆ เยนสบาย มีเสียงนก จุกจิก จุกจิบ คลอตลอดเวลา เรียกวา สงบ กได

แตสมองทีเพิงประมวลหนังสือเลมนีจบนัน กำลังคึกคัก ตืนเตนไปกันมันอยางมาก ชีวิตนักลวงกระเปา ทีเขาไปพัวพันกับ อาชญากรรมทีใหญโต ชีวิตทีถูกชักใย มืดอึมครึมแตสนุกกวาทีคิดไวมาก

ผูเขียนเลาเรืองได กระชับ ลืนไหลมาก สรางสรรคบรรยากาศลึกลับ นัวรๆดี คนแปลกสงทำหนาทีไดไมรูสึกสะดุดเลย
หวังวาคงไดอานตอๆไปอีก
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บอมบุง พ่อยอดคะน้าอ่อน
ดุดันในทวงทำนองเฉพาะตัว ผูกเรืองใหกระหายอานจนยากจะวาง ภายใตบรรยากาศของความคลุมเครือของตัวละครทีชะตากรรมไขวกัน

ผูหลงใหลในทฤษฎีสมคบคิด ไมควรพลาดมาลองชิมนวนิยายเลมนี
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Gregor Xane
An almost surreal, almost dreamlike crime fiction tale. A very smooth narrative that goes down easy. This would have been four stars if some of the main character's background would have been fleshed out a bit more. A particular relationship that he develops could have been handled in a more interesting way, as well.
Raven
I must admit to having read very little Japanese crime fiction, but drawn by a cover quote from Natsuo Kirino, the author of the remarkable ‘Out’, I was immediately hooked by this bijou slice of Japanese noir. Centred on the criminal activities of pickpocket, Nishimura, this is a at times shocking, but poignant tale of the seedy underbelly of Tokyo. Nishimura spends his days targeting prosperous looking individuals with his deft pickpocketing skills but then finds himself coerced by a fellow fri ...more
The Commuting Bookworm
The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura

The thief is a seasoned pickpocket, who is questioning his lifestyle, his choices and the consequences of his actions. It is written in the first person narrative all the way through and therefore is easy to follow and read.

At 210 pages this is a small book with a mighty emotional punch. Nakamura slowly builds the readers attachment to the narrator, who although perhaps is behaving against acceptable normalities and living in a way that many of us would find disgra
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Nancy Oakes
for a longer and much more in-depth review, redirect here.

The Thief is a very good read, intensely satisfying with a great deal of psychological depth to go along with the crime elements of the novel. The central character is a pickpocket named Nishimura (whose name is only stated once) who has sharpened his skills to an elite level over the years to the point where he can easily remove a wallet, sift through its contents and sometimes return it to its owner, all without the victim's knowledge
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Lyndz
I really wanted to love this book. And there were parts of it that I enjoyed. But, unfortunately, I cannot go so far as to say I loved this book.

The plot for me was greatly lacking in depth. Plot spoiler: (view spoiler) The character development was nonexistent. -Which is particularly difficult for me because that is what I look for
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Liviu
FBC Rv (links there)

INTRODUCTION: The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura, translated by Satoko Izumo and Stephen Coates, is a modern crime/thriller novel with philosophical overtones which attracted my attention on two counts. It is written by a Japanese author (see HERE and HERE for two of my recent reviews of Japanese novels and of course 2011's top book of mine was 1Q84) and it is published by Soho Press which just put out the wonderful Andromeda Lax-Romano novel The Detour.

Even so, I hesitated befor
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Jessica
This was very good...engrossing, well-written yet slight somehow. It felt more like a novella than a novel. Pity that nothing else of Nakamura's--as far as I can tell--has been translated into English. He's a young writer, and it's likely he'll get even better with age. The Thief, which won the Oe prize, has a spare feel to it. A crime novel but the crime--he's an expert pickpocket--is clean, without violence. The thief gets enmeshed in a gang, against his will, but he's sharp-witted as well as ...more
Mizuki
It's a fast paced, enjoyable, no-nonsense and economically-written hard boiled thriller/noir.

I really like how the author, Mr. Nakamura wrote about different criminal activities and and how the mind of criminals actually work (to a point that it looks to me like he had soaked himself with criminality to get such intimate knowledge), he made it all seem believable and real. The Thief is a book which can keep you at the edge of your seat, although I have mixed feeling about the ending, still it's
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Charles Dee Mitchell
Pickpockets make the appealing anti-heroes. Although I am certain that if my pocket were ever picked I would wish the most draconian measures possible brought to bear on the perpetrator, reading about them or watching them on film is usually fun. The unnamed narrator of Nakamura’s novel has been a thief since childhood, and he is very good at what he does. He once worked as part of a three-man team, which you learn is the best and safest way to go about these crimes; but, after a time out of Tok ...more
Drew
I've been a huge fan of Japanese crime/mystery fiction ever since I read Out by Natsuo Kirino. I started devouring Japanese noir books, loving Kirino, Kenzo Kitakata and some of Miyuki Miyabe's novels. I read a so-so review of the Thief in the Washington Post. It said that it wasn't a thriller or action-packed, but it seemed more of a reflection on the main character, a pickpocket. I thought that that's exactly what I loved about Japanese fiction I've read. The books I've read are a social criti ...more
Tony
THE THIEF. (2012; Eng. Trans. 2013). Fuminori Nakamura. ****.
It’s been my impression that Japanese crime novels are very different from American crime novels, although they are certainly influenced by our techniques. Their authors seem to be more interested in the basic mechanics of the crime and in the personality of the criminal using those techniques. In this novel, the first from this author translated into English, we learn about the art of pickpocketing. This is probably rife in Japan, sin
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J.

Tight, understated mystery that does what a lot of mysteries seem incapable of-- staying internally coherent, keeping up intensity while narrowing in on its goals. So much else is really optional if the author can keep the story travelling along as he has launched it, at the right tempo and pitch... Landing at unforseen but inevitable places, moments of brief certainty in an uncertain world.

This is one of those first person stories where the author doesn't quite concede the character (or maybe
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Mysterytribune
In the case you have not read any Japanese crime fiction or thriller so far, we suggest you take a look at "The Thief" by Fuminori Nakamura. Born in 1977 and graduated from Fukushima University in 2000. He won the prestigious Noma Literary Prize for New Writers for his first novel, A Gun in 2002 and in 2005 he won the Akutagawa prize for The Boy in the Earth. The Thief, winner of the 2010 Oe Prize, Japan’s most important literary award, is his first novel to published in English.

A Brief Summary:
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sany
The Thief stole several hours from me that I'm never getting back. It miserably failed to make any point for me. All the fuss and some doofus on 'WSJ review' suggesting this as one of the best novel definitely fooled me.
There is some detail of the workings of the protagonist on subway stations which might interest you a bit, but apart from that there is no sensible story in the novel. Nothing convinced me for his foolish decision of not running away when he had already expected the foreboding. T
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Arnav Gupta
Another really good book this year about mystery and this one specifically about pickpocketing and thievery. A really easy book with not a lot of complex themes but definitely an interesting story line. I personally do not like the ending because it is blurred and sudden but overall the book is really good. It does have some inappropriate content about prostitution so be aware of that before you read.
Paul
Nishimura is a pickpocket, highly skilled and proficient in his chosen crime. In the streets of Tokyo there are few better than him. He is alone with no family and no friends, just his wits and experience to keep him alive.

One day a character from his past finds him. He needs him for a job, and he is not taking no for an answer. This job exposes him to the even darker criminal underbelly of Japan and he finds himself trapped in a intricate web of murder and theft involving the rich and powerful.
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Sophie Dale
May 11, 2013 Sophie Dale rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Crime novel fans
Recommended to Sophie by: No one
Completely different from anything I've ever read before, but I was hooked from the first page. A real insight into the pickpocketing culture of Tokyo and the dark characters behind it. Told in first person by an experienced pickpocket, you begin the book feeling angered by the immoral and questionable values that the main character has. However, as the story unfolds, you start to see a more human side to the pickpocket through the people he meets and experiences he has, and gather an understand ...more
Aik Chien 인첸
Despite being such a short novel, The Thief is fast-paced and entirely engrossing. It chronicles the life of an experienced pick-pocket, who got caught in a web of events which are much bigger than what he expected.

Nishimura is a loner, he has no family, no friends and no connections. Being a thief, it's the best for him that way. However, when he accepted a task of robbing a political figure, his life started to change. He also grew a friendly relationship with a little boy who steals food sup
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everysummer
มีสองอยางทีชอบในเลมนี (1) การใช ‘หอคอย’ มาเปน symbolic ตังแตหนาแรกจนหนาสุดทาย (2) เรืองเลา ‘เดกหนุม’ ของคิซะกิ ทียอนวนิยายเลมนีใหเหลือแค 6 หนา

“นักลวง” เลาเรืองโดย นิชิมุระ (มีการเอยชือเขาเพียงครังเดียวเมืออานไปหาสิบหนา) นักลวงกระเปาทีทำใหเราเกือบหลงเชือวา การลวงกระเปาฉกเงิน ‘เลกนอย’ โดยทีเจาของเงินแทบไมรูตัววาเงินหาย เปนอาชญากรรมทีไมไดเลวรายเทาไหรนัก “มันแทบจะไมมีผลอะไรกับคนทีมีพันลานหรอก ถึงจะโดนขโมยมาแสนนึงกเถอะ” และ “เมือไมมีแนวคิดเรืองครอบครองกจะไมมีการขโมย มันกไมแปลกไมใชเหรอ? ถาโลกนีมีเดกที
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Huda
and as I reached the last sentence of the book I shouted to it, "Goddammit don't end it here, Nakamura!"

******

The Thief was a very likeable book for three things:

1. The way it addresses how pickpockets (or any criminal no matter how small-time they are) cannot be part of society, not for moral lessons but just to look at them without judgement, simply letting you know such and such is how life is going to be like when you take on a path you can never turn your back on.

2. The 'villain-tells-all
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Joshua Thompson
The story itself was interesting enough to read through but the vagueness of the plot made it look so pretentious. The best parts of the book were the relationship between the prostitute mother and the pickpocket son, the writer would have been better off writing about them and developing it further rather than throwing in a kingpin of a bad guy who's reasoning for his actions are so covert you really don't get the existence of this overall plot; not to mention the third to last chapter which go ...more
Monica
Stark, spare,noir. Could not put it down. From Amazon reviews:

In Fuminori Nakamura's new novel, the main character weaves along the streets of Tokyo pickpocketing his way through the flow of humanity, as if in a dream. He lifts wallets filled with cash and credit cards with a masterful ease, his mind occupied with a trance-like debate about whether to care anymore. Whether to care about the young kid he sees clumsily stealing food at a supermarket. Whether to care about his partner, who disappe
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Jade
This book deserves 5 stars on the the ending alone. I'm not a violent person but, I felt I had to physically beat this book to get my frustration out because of that ending. It was brilliant!!!

This is a book way outside my usual comfort reading zone. Though that is precisely why I chose it. I wanted to start reading more foreign books, which include characters, setting and/or stories I am not familiar with. I wanted to be intrigued in not only the plot and it's development, but also how the cult
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Gloria Feit
This novel is an interesting idea in need of fulfillment. Somehow, it leaves the reader somewhat confused. It recounts the development of a pickpocket who generally only removes wallets from rich people. Along the way, the author philosophizes about the “profession” of picking pockets, including a little history of some of the more famous practioners of the art.

The thief himself tells the story in the first person. However, for all he has to say about his work and life, we learn very little abou
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5109680
His debut novel (The Gun) won the Shinchō New Author Prize in 2002. Also received the Noma Prize for New Writers ini 2004 for Shakō [The Shade]. Winner of the Akutagawa Prize in 2005 for Tsuchi no naka no kodomo (Child in the Ground). Suri (Pickpocket) wont the Ōe Kenzaburō Prize in 2010. His other works include Sekai no Hate (The Far End of the World), Ōkoku (Kingdom), and Meikyū (Labyrinth).

S
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More about Fuminori Nakamura...
Evil and the Mask Last Winter We Parted 何もかも憂鬱な夜に [Nani mo kamo yūutsu na yoru ni] The Gun 土の中の子供 [Tsuchi no naka no kodomo]

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“You're a pickpocket right? That's cool. But you don't do it for the money, do you?"
"Maybe the end." I said abruptly.
"The end?"
"What will happen to me in the end. What happens to people who live the way I do? That's what I'd like to know.”
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“Life is a mystery. But listen. Why did I turn up in your life in the first place? Do you believe in fate? Was your fate controlled by me, or was being controlled by me your fate? But in the end, aren't they just two sides of the same coin?” 2 likes
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