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The Thief

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  3,997 ratings  ·  560 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 peop
Hardcover, 211 pages
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
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Damn, just… *pours a glass of sake and downs it in one go* … just damn.

Do you want a bleak noir? I don’t mean a sympathetic criminal narrator who get’s his comeuppance tragically, or a hard boiled private eye getting stuck sending his love interest to the slammer after solving that she committed the crime; I mean something that is soul crushing. Something that makes you wonder what the point is of… well, everything.

The plot follows our narrator after he returns to Tokyo. He’s been gone for a wh
Mar 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Sinem A.
Sep 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nippon
Yeni dönem japon bir yazarı dilimizde okuyabilmek keyifliydi. Bir antikahramanın çabuk biten hikayesi..
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime, favorites
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.
Apr 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Derinliği olmayan, basit bir öyküyü basit cümleler ve basit bir kurguyla anlatan bir novella. Biraz polisiye yönü katılmış ki sürükleyiciliği bu sağlıyor. Sıradan sosyolojik tahlillerle hikayeye ciddiyet kazandırma gayretine girilmiş.
Benzer tüm yapıtlarda olduğu gibi (örneğin Yankesiciler isimli Kolombiya’da çekilmiş bir film) hırsızlık ve yankesicilik “yasal” değil ama toplum nezdinde “meşru” gibi gösterilip hikayenin kahramanını yüceltme, ona sempati yaratma isteği var, bu ise kolaya kaçış gi
One of my goals for 2017 is to read more Asian translated fiction, a goal that I'm thus far failing at SPECTACULARLY. I've also been in the mood for a ton of thrillers recently, so when I stumbled across this thriller on my local library's Overdrive - a thriller that's set in Japan and has been translated from Japanese - I was instantly sold.

To be honest, I mostly found this...confusing.

Like, you're thrown straight into the action. I think the protagonist's name is mentioned MAYBE once? In pas
Edward Lorn
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
May 22, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Chi – cuddle.thereader
Nói chung cuốn này không hẳn đặc sắc lắm, có vài đoạn cũng khá cuốn hút lúc nhân vật 'tôi' hành nghề móc túi :))
Còn lại tổng thể bình thường.
Patrick Sherriff
I'd forced myself a little reluctantly through Nakamura's "Cult X" which at 512 pages was probably 200 pages too long (my review is here:, so I was pleasantly surprised by how good this earlier novel was. To the point, engaging, and staffed with an interesting antihero and believable, surprising plot. The ending was, er, very Japanese, let's say, but what a good noir. Well narrated and translated.

Download my starter library for free here - http://eepurl.
Mar 02, 2017 rated it liked it
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
Nov 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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
Bir hırsızla tanışıyoruz.
Kitapta yazarın bize yazarak değil ama satır aralarında anlattığına ya da en azından benim anladığıma gore, bu hırsız hayatta çok ezilmiş, üzülmüş, yalnız kalmış. Kimse değer vermemiş, hayata pek çok kişiden çok geride başlamış. Hayatta kalmak için sürekli mücadele etmek zorunda kalmış. Hiç ailesi olmuş mu bilmiyoruz. Hayatına hiç kimse girip çıkmış mı bilmiyoruz. Ona bu güne kadar kimsenin değer vermediğini, onu var saymadığını anlıyoruz ancak o şimdiye kada
May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Charles Dee Mitchell
Jun 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
The Commuting Bookworm
Jun 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
May 08, 2012 rated it liked it
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
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 rated it really liked it
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
Totally gripping. I like how Nishimura tells everything about his pickpocket thingy, from A to Z how it was done. And it was nice of him to look after the little boy, minus the part he teaches him how to shoplift and stuff. Warmhearted, that he actually wish the boy won't ended like him in future.

The part of him being recruited for the theft, involving himself with the mobster boss-- I wish he hadn't. Too bad for Ishikawa though.

It was fast paced-- love how it goes. Starting to ending-- a bit of
Thoa Nguyen
Tại sao vậy???? Tại sao đến lúc gay cấn thì lại hết??? Chỉ vì cái kết quá hụt hẫng nên tụt hẳn xuống 3 sao :( Tiếc thật không biết Nakamura có ý định viết tiếp câu chuyện không nhưng mình thấy với thể loại truyện như này thì mạch truyện quá ngắn đọc chẳng đã chút nào :( quá buồnnn
May 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cuốn sách hứa hẹn nhưng lại khiến mình hụt hẫng quá :(
Bài trên Đọc Sách của mình:
The Grim Reader
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Much has been written of the talents of Fuminori Nakamura. This is my first read and I now count myself amongst his fans. The book’s title sort of gives away what the story is about…yep, it’s about a thief, a pickpocket actually, one roaming the streets of Tokyo delicately sliding his fingers into the clothes of unsuspecting passers-by, relieving them of their wallets and purses.

Nakamura’s tale is a sublime read. very noir, and very, very good. The prose style is simple and the story is very eas
Apr 06, 2013 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.
"Ama şurası açıkça belli ki mülkiyet kavramı olmasaydı çalmak diye bir kavram da olmazdı, öyle değil mi? Dünyada açlık çeken tek bir çocuk bile olduğu müddetçe, her türlü servet çalıntıdır."

“Tanrı’yı dünyanın yaratıcısı değil de, süper güçlere sahip süper bir insan olarak düşün. Bu durumda hiçbir şey değişmezdi, değil mi? İnsanlar yine ona itaat eder, ona tapar, kendi refahları için ona dua ederlerdi.”

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Japanese Novel an...: The Thief Group Read 18 25 Aug 29, 2018 04:46AM  
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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.” 5 likes
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