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3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  1,146 ratings  ·  120 reviews
Set in the great human maelstrom of Tokyo, Strangers is a thinking man's ghost story. When Harada, a jaded TV scriptwriter, runs into his long-dead parents one night, he enters the womb of a city whose living inhabitants have perhaps lost their souls. Can Harada save his?
Paperback, 208 pages
Published September 1st 2003 by Vertical (first published 1987)
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lovely atmospherics in this japanese ghost story that is more elegaic than shocking. well at least till the denouement. yamada was a scriptwriter. so he really knows how to grab your attention. and there's a great portrait of the mind of a salaryman too.
Nancy Oakes
Feb 20, 2008 Nancy Oakes rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of Japanese ghost stories or fiction
Recommended to Nancy by: amazon
Shelves: horror
Very brief, this reads quickly & it is easy to read as well. If, like myself, you are a fan of Japanese ghost stories, you're going to see the end coming on this one right away so that kind of spoiled it for me, because this story is very much in line with the old traditional type of ghostly tale from Japan.

A brief summary:

Harada-san (Hideo) is in his mid 40s, is a scriptwriter for television who isn't working all that much any more and lives alone, having been recently divorced and never t...more
As much as I wanted this book to work I have to admit that it doesn't deserve more than an average rating. Perhaps something was lost in the translation, but the narrator's musings were heavyhanded and denied the reader any sense of involvement in the book. You were told how things were and that was that. In the moments when the writer decided to let you read the story, and not the narrator's view on matters, there were some genuinely moving moments, but these were too few and far between, which...more
When one is accustomed to the trends of American fantasy novels, it's a refreshing shock to the system to come across a clean, spare little book like Taichi Yamada's Strangers. The blurbs on the cover call it a "ghost story"; it is exactly that, delivered without pretention and with a classic sort of eerieness that hearkens back to The Twilight Zone and even farther, with echoes of mythic tales of what one must and must not do when encountering the dead.

Hideo Harada is a middle-aged TV scriptwri...more
Parrish Lantern

When you meet someone for the first time, there's a formality to it, like a polite introduction.This is usually followed by a period of time where you size each other up. Am I going to like this individual, what have we in common, is there enough interest for me to put in the effort? Whether conscious of this or not, we are checking each other out ,but every now & then someone comes along that cuts right through that. Beyond the slight introduction, which you're already laughing at, because...more
Aug 20, 2007 Jim rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who like their horror more Ring-like than Nightmare on Elm Street
I bought this for research. It is not my usual fare. It features a solitary script-writer living alone in a tower block which seems to house only him and a young woman. One night the man, suffering from a bout of nostalgia, visits the part of the city where he was brought up only to run into a man who seems identical to his father. In time he meets the man's wife and he is not surprised to find she looks like his mother. Visiting them, as he finds himself compelled to do, takes its toll on his h...more
I finished Strangers a few days ago. Odd little book. It basically reads like a bad Japanese horror movie. (Think The Eye, which is actually Chinese.) The amazing plot twist at the end is pretty obvious at the beginning, but it's fun as a ghost story. The narration (or maybe the translation) is a bit stilted at points, but some of the scenes, where the protagonist meets up with his dead parents, who are 'living' in a nearby Tokyo neighborhood, are kind of touching. Anyway, this book gave me craz...more
The people in Harada's life are ghosts, and the ghosts in his life are people. It's actually pretty cute. The stuff with the parents was adorable, and I liked the reveal at the end.

I wasn't sure about the translation of the Dad's dialogue... it's all "Whadja expect?" and "Okey-dokey". Too "Dick Van Dyke in 'Mary Poppins'" for me.
Nick G
I'm always searching for fiction that blends surreal elements into reality in a unique but natural sort of way, without attempting to explain it all away logically. In short, something that makes reality feel like some kind of abstract dream state and then just goes with it. There's no genre for this, as far as I'm aware, but it's something I enjoy. This story was just that, if not a 'lite' version of what I typically find. That isn't a bad thing, either, as it makes for a quick read.

The langua...more
Suzanne (Chick with Books) Yester
A Japanese Ghost Story that will Haunt you...

One of the things I love about the Japanese Literature I've discovered this year is its ability to weave the present day with the spirits of the past so matter of fact. Spirits are accepted as existing. Strangers by Taichi Yamada is such a story. It's a ghost story, but more than that. There is an underlying layer that makes this a much more complex story, one that will have you questioning your own heart...

Imagine meeting your parents when they are a...more
David Haws
While I like speculative fiction, “ghost stories” aren’t my favorites, and I probably wouldn’t have read the book except that they had it in our library’s section of Japanese fiction. I find the concept a little weak. How did 桂 (I’m grateful the translator left us enough information to determine the kanji of Kei’s name) become so powerful by simply killing herself? What was the point of the misdirection with the parents? Why use a first person narrative so you know the protagonist is going to su...more
A mother and father in their thirties with a 48-year-old son could not be of the real world, of course, but if an imagined world could allow such a relationship to exist, then I was ready to embrace that world. The terror I’d felt before was gone; floating before me were my parents’ joyful smiles welcoming me into their home.


Harada is a television screenwriter living in Tokyo. He is divorced, estranged from his son, and his best friend and working partner has dissolved their relationship to p...more
Nick Tramdack
I read this book in a Caribou Coffee on Halsted Street during a depressing time in my life. The windows were rainy, I was almost the only person in the store. But Yamada's absorbing story and sharp style succeeded in distracting me from my troubles.

Some technical observations:

"By the same token, getting divorced wasn't likely to expand the horizons of an over-40 television writer so terribly much. I knew this." Look at how the narration takes 3 words to emphasize that this judgment was being mad...more
I have to admit that the book is not like what I imagined it to be, I was expecting it to be a full haunting blood chill kinda story…but I wouldn’t say that I don’t like it, in fact I really like it. The story is well-written and like most Japanese novels I had read so far, Strangers (originally titled Ijin-tachi to no Natsu or Summer With Strangers) is closed with great ending. I really like the realization that hits him in the end of his journey. And the ending gives something for us to think…...more
Gertrude & Victoria
Strangers, by Yamada Taichi, is a story of a middle-aged scriptwriter in the midst of a small personal crisis, who is caught in a bizarre set of circumstances, as his life is interrupted by an unexpected and ghostly encounter. Yamada's style is lucid, concise and modern, which makes for easy reading. He capably delivers you from one scene to the next, with a cool Japanese chic.

The main character, Hara, is stranded between two worlds as he tries to seperate, reality from illusion, apparition from...more
Charlotte (Buried in Books)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
As I started opening the first pages, Strangers seemed pretty exciting regardless of the genre, which is horror and personally I do not enjoy such books. I didn't read it as a horror novel, and I found myself reflecting over several things rather getting horrified over the book. The story is well written, pretty different than the styles I have seen before. The language used is easy to comprehend, with several formal English words introduced because I've never heard some of them. But as the stor...more
i only knew about this book from pretentiously wanting to read it before watching the obayashi movie based on it, but it was well worth the obscure recommendation. good show. i'm not sure how it could possibly be read as a horror story, so the frequent exhortation to "not read it as a horror story" is a little odd: this is much more like a (ryu) murakami book - in a good way - and not just because it's japanese... the terse writing and family dynamic are the winners. but the specters and spooks...more
...Ecco qui un altro libro da aggiungere alla lista "romanzi che se fossero stati più X e meno Y sarebbero potuti essere capolavori". Due cose fatte diversamente, infatti, avrebbero salvato "Estranei" da questa ignominosa lista.
La prima: lo stile di scrittura. Possibile che gli autori giapponesi scrivano sempre alla stessa maniera? Li scrivono con il pilota automatico? O non esistono scrittori giapponesi, bensì un super computer che elabora di volta in volta i romanzi? Ma soprattutto: possibile...more
Jul 29, 2008 Potjy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all Murakami fandom that can stand creepy things
Can I give this book 4-and-a-half or 4-and-three-quarter stars? Huh? Nope? Oh, so bad.

I've read in a magazine somewhere that you should NOT read this as a horror. Well, I agree with the columnist, it is much more profound than that. However, when the author wants to present his idea in the form of horror novel, so it must be a horror novel. Therefore, when some good horror elements were lost, I feel obliged to subtract a quarter or two of a star from my rating.
I was very disappointed by this book, the premise was interesting and I started expecting good things. The author was a TV scriptwriter before turning his hand to novels - and Strangers reads like mediocre TV drama. The dialogue was terrible, I cringed at every line and the twist in the tale was far too obvious. I may be being unfair, I think the biggest problem with the book was the translation, the clunkiest I've read in a long time.
At first glance this book is a simple little ghost story; a nice quick read. However as the pages turn you slowly become aware that there is a hidden meaning in the actions and interactions of the characters. This simple little book encourages the reader to think about how our actions have a ripple effect that disrupt the waters of other's lives. Strangers is quite a refreshing look at the aspects of human nature
Böcker om övernaturliga ting är inget som intresserar mig särskilt mycket. Jag tycker verkligheten är tillräckligt intressant, obegriplig och ibland till och med skrämmande att det räcker att försöka beskriva den. Men när författaren närmar sig det övernaturliga på rätt sätt kan det bli intressant.

Främlingar handlar om den nyligen frånskilde TV-manusförfattaren Harada som börjar umgås med sina föräldrar som varit döda sedan han var tolv år. Trots att det i allra högsta grad är onaturligt och Har...more
This falls into the catagory of a purchase made because of my complete love of Japanese fiction.

Beautifully written and quite compelling. The story was not particularly exciting, new or inventive but that can be forgiven because Yamada paints a mysterious and engaging atmosphere which actually envelops the reader in a simple yet elegant way. Good stuff!

I was initially going to give 4 stars. I'm such a sucker for this kind of books, it had some mystery, some fantasy, some horror and a little twist at the end (wasn't that surprising to be honest) but it lacked something I can't really tell. But I do have the feeling that the original Japanese text had whatever it lacked and got lost through translation.
Mmmm...I've been losing weight for more than a year now. Which one are you out there who's not from this world? I care.

When you feel very strongly about something, you should have done it. Never ever ignore what the heart tells. It is always right, no matter how absurd it sounds to your brain.
I really enjoyed this book. Its short, sparsely written and very clever. Its described as a ghost story, which it is, but it also deals with coming to terms with loss and moving on. It left me with lots to think about as the main thrust of the book and the ending are open to interpretation.
I found it quite weird that a lot of reviews called this book "creepy". I didn't find it creepy at all. After reading people say it was creepy, i was expecting it to be a horror book, but it was more a story of love and loss and lonelyness. I still enjoyed it and found it quite touching.
Rumaizah Bakar
A haunting and touching story, especially the protaganist's repeated encounters with his deceased parents. The ending/solution makes it more ordinary than it could have been, but an enjoyable novel nevertheless.
A spooky and affecting Japanese ghost story that unfortunately tumbles a bit too far into horror movie cliché at the end. Still, it’s a quick read, and for the most part I found it atmospheric and enjoyable.
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Taichi Yamada is one of the most famous and highly respected writers in Japan. Winner of many awards for literary excellence from private organizations and from the Japanese government, he is best known for his scripts for TV dramas, but has also written many novels and plays. He was born in Tokyo in 1934, and graduated from Waseda University in 1958 after having studied japanese Language and Lite...more
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