Virgil Alexander's Reviews > Big in Japan

Big in Japan by Jennifer Stewart Griffith
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Feb 23, 13

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Read from August 20, 2012 to February 22, 2013

I highly recommend the novel, Big in Japan, by Jennifer Griffith, a mixed-genre story that pulls the reader into the interesting life of a stranger in modern-day Japan. The story has mystery, adventure, romance, and humor in near equal doses, presented in a story that hooked me and kept me reading to the end. Buck Cooper was a big Texas kid, who became an even bigger man. His size and weight had dominated his life, and not in a good way. He is a good-hearted person, intelligent, and witty, with a degree in data analysis, but because he is very tall and fat he never had a reciprocated love interest.

As a favor to his parents he takes time off from his job to travel with them to Japan, where his size and basic goodness makes him a celebrity among the sumo-loving Japanese. I have never understood the strong interest in the national sport of Japan, until I read this story. The intricacies and traditions of this ancient athletic competition are well explained by Mrs. Griffith, to the point that as the story progressed, from the rigorous and brutal “boot camp” type training to the professional tournaments, I felt myself admiring and cheering for Buck and his protagonist teammates. So in addition to the other genres mentioned in the first paragraph of this review, it is also a very good sports story. In fact for multiple weeks following its release, Big in Japan was the top selling sports story on Amazon.

The development of Buck’s first mutual, but forbidden, love relationship provides a satisfying story of both sweet romance and unselfish love. The dark elements of Japanese-centric extremist sumo fans and the underworld add danger and mystery to the story. Intermixed are the wonder, beauty, and sometimes weirdness of living in Japan. The author uses her experience of living and attending college in Japan to add wonderful detail and realism to the setting and culture in which Buck finds himself.

I found the book very compelling, hating when I had to stop to take care of daily life. Big in Japan is available in print, Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and at bookstores throughout the US.
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