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The Thief

3.5  ·  Rating Details ·  2,891 Ratings  ·  424 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 peopl
Published March 20th 2012 by Soho Crime (first published 2009)
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Cris N. Yep, the sequel which is titled "The Kingdom" is supposed to come this summer (some in July, 2016, I believe it was).
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At its core The Thief aims to be a philosophical neo-noir, but in the end it simply proves too bland to pass the test. The protagonist and narrator of the book is a seasoned Tokyo pickpocket, and also a total enigma: he has no family and very few friends, and for most of the book we do not even learn hi name. He moves throughout the crowd, dressed in good suits, and steals money from other people in good suits, who remain as anonymous to him as he is to us.

Most of the intrigue in the early parts
Mar 17, 2012 Cynthia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
A professional pickpocket finds himself in the middle of a complex maze of deceit with no way out. When he picks the pocket of a prominent politician (who is murdered) he finds that there are individuals that want to use him as a 'mark' it or not. Atmospheric and chilling - a great crime novel.
Mar 02, 2017 Arash rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
درست بعد از این که کسی رو بی رحمانه می کشم، طلوع آفتاب جلوهٔ بسیار زیبایی پیدا می کنه و به صورت خندان بچه ای نگاه می کنم و ستایشش می کنم. اگه اون بچه یتیم باشه، یا کمکش می کنم یا شاید یه جایی بکشمش. با این که به حالش افسوس می خورم! اگه ایزدها یا تقدیر شخصیت و عاطفه ای داشتن، به نظرت این حس به حس اون ها نزدیک نبود؟ توی این دنیایی که بچه ها و قدیس ها به ظالمانه ترین شکل می میرن؟


شخص اصلی کتاب از کودکی شروع میکنه به کیف قاپی و کم کم با گذشت زمان یکی از بهترینها میشه. به شکلی اتفاقی توسط دوستش به
May 13, 2012 Vegantrav rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 22, 2012 Tony rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sep 27, 2014 Mizuki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Charles Dee Mitchell
Jun 21, 2015 Charles Dee Mitchell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
Pickpockets make the most 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 o ...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
Apr 06, 2013 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2014
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.
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
Arnav Gupta
Sep 10, 2014 Arnav Gupta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
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
Nov 24, 2012 Raven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 16, 2013 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Path Kittinat
Apr 11, 2015 Path Kittinat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
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
Gregor Xane
Jun 18, 2012 Gregor Xane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
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.
บอมบุง พ่อยอดคะน้าอ่อน
ดุดันในทวงทำนองเฉพาะตัว ผูกเรืองใหกระหายอานจนยากจะวาง ภายใตบรรยากาศของความคลุมเครือของตัวละครทีชะตากรรมไขวกัน

ผูหลงใหลในทฤษฎีสมคบคิด ไมควรพลาดมาลองชิมนวนิยายเลมนี
Kirsti (Melbourne on my mind)
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:
Dec 15, 2012 J. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, japan, con-games

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
Jan 14, 2012 Lyndz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads, own, reviewed
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
A short, quick neo-noir suspense set in Tokyo. It's a little skimpy in that it's not very long, but also that there isn't much plot: it centers on a professional pickpocket, whose life collides with a sinister figure and a random prostitute's neglected child. Our protagonist floats aimlessly through his life, drifting from mark to mark, and coming to terms with the restlessness that made him become a thief in the first place.

But I loved it. The antagonist was tiresome (he literally never shut up
Ati Yeh
Jul 27, 2016 Ati Yeh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 03, 2017 Pattie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book at The Strand in New York (a must stop for every book lover and a place I visit every time I am in NY -- this time more than once). It won Japan's highest literary prize and it is Fuminori Nakamura's first book translated into English. The Thief tells the story of a seasoned pickpocket who works among the shadows and makes a comfortable living. He is a loner and remains disconnected from the world around him. His old partner has disappeared after a robbery they were involved in ...more
Apr 04, 2012 Drew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese-noir, ebook
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
Apr 14, 2012 Mandy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Compellingly readable, this short novel by the acclaimed Japanese author Fuminori Nakamura, follows an expert pickpocket as he plies his trade on the streets and subways of crowded Tokyo. He appears to have no friends, no family – and no conscience. He lives and works alone, until one day an old partner offers him a job that he can’t refuse.
The laconic and terse style and the noir atmosphere make this a mesmerising read and this totally amoral criminal weaves a kind of spell over the reader. At
Nov 06, 2013 santropy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-reads
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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His debut novel (The Gun) won the Shinchō New Author Prize in 2002. Also received the Noma Prize for New Writers in 2004 for Shakō [The Shade]. Winner of the Akutagawa Prize in 2005 for Tsuchi no naka no kodomo (Child in the Ground). Suri (Pickpocket) won the Ōe Kenzaburō Prize in 2010. His other works include Sekai no Hate (The Far End of the World), Ōkoku (Kingdom), and Meikyū (Labyrinth).

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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.”
“But obviously if there was no concept of ownership there’d be no concept of stealing, would there? As long as there’s one starving child in the world, all property is theft.” 4 likes
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