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3.41  ·  Rating details ·  175 ratings  ·  18 reviews
The vice and virtues of middle age are espied with an eagle eye in this hardboiled story about a mid-career gangster. Unfolding thorugh chiseled sketches and run through with tantalizing motifs, Kitakata's masterpiece follows the fortunes of a yakuza mobster as his moment of truth approaches. Cool, real, and cleansing, Ashes is a literary tonic. ...more
Hardcover, 219 pages
Published June 1st 2003 by Vertical (first published 1990)
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Average rating 3.41  · 
Rating details
 ·  175 ratings  ·  18 reviews

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Oct 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
There it was. Eyeing me. I'd never read Japanses hard-boiled before and I wasn't sure if I should start now. Reluctantly, I grabbed the book and started reading. Bullets. Death. Dames.

Fifty pages later I knew I had to do something about this book. When I brought it back to the library, the libraian looked at me with nervous eyes. This book had hardly ever been checked out since being acquired. "It was good," I said. She never asked me, but I told her anyway. She didn't smile at me; she didn't r
Patrick Sherriff
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-and-such, japan
The prose was spare. The mood hardboiled. The narrator, an antihero. At times more of a character study of a mid-life crisis, yakuza-style, than a plot exactly, you had to add the story yourself which was a chore, at first, but after a while, a pleasurable one. Our hero was a nasty piece of work, but still our hero, even though he did some unheroic things. Was there a perverted sense of justice? Or just perversion? For folk who like their crime yarns mean and moody and endings grey rather than b ...more
Jul 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-mystery, japan
I liked this more than most of the GR reviews I've seen. The book is episodic, and the plot is minimal. But the thread is there and runs from beginning to end. The book follows a Yakuza boss named Tanaka. The first half follows him in the third person, the second in the first person. And he proves to be a fairly interesting character. The other characters are also well-drawn and interesting, especially the women. And the topic of the book is, after all, rather existential. It has elements of Dav ...more
Oct 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Oh that poor little fish! Thank goodness Tanaka did not keep a fluffy animal.
Johanna Ilen
This might be an excellent piece of yakuza literature, but I can’t say I enjoyed it. Interesting enough to read till the end, even though I can’t really say what it was that made me finish it.
Sep 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A great piece of introspective hardboiled Japanese fiction. Instead of a detective as so many writers of hardboiled fiction are apt to fall back on (likely and rightly in attempts to follow the success of Raymond Chandler et al), it tells a story centered in yakuza politics – played close enough to the chest not to give too much away, but enough that the personal experience of a middle-aged yakuza is very real to the reader. The first half is written in the third person with fairly little clues ...more
Shelly - The Illustrated Librarian -
Fantastic Yakuza story! The first half is spoken from the main character's point of view, in his own voice. The second half is related in the third person. Inside the man--Outside the man. Which is the real man? Which man is better? Is this not every man's issue in life?

Our mid-range Yakuza member is being groomed to take some control, start his own sub-gang with him as boss. However, he doesn't want it. He's basically a street thug, and he knows it, and he's happy with that. He must accept the
Nov 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japanese-noir
I just finished reading Kenzo Kitakata’s Ashes. It was a really intriguing read about a middle-aged Japanese yakuza. The book sounded so intriguing before I bought it. I have been on a Japanese novel kick ever since I read Out by Natsuo Kirino. But, the first couple of dozen pages seems really boring and slow. It was told in two parts, one from the outside, with the main character, Tanaka, being seen in third person. The second part of the book was told from Tanaka’s internal perspective. The st ...more
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
A solid piece of Yakuza fiction, though I can't say I'm aware of there really being a genre for this kind of stuff. The first half or so is episodic and the second half is an actual organized story. It's worth a read if you think the Yakuza is at least sort of interesting. ...more
Keso Shengelia
Oct 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
A great piece of introspective hardboiled Japanese fiction. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys hardboiled fiction or is interested in this genre
Margrethe Lauber
Feb 14, 2010 marked it as to-read
Shelves: tokyo-noir
One of my favorite book covers.
Dec 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People who are too happy
Recommended to James by: Patrick Sherriff
Shelves: fiction, japan
If this story was any grittier, you'd have to wear gloves while reading it to avoid shredding your hands.

Tanaka is a yakuza who wants to be gang leader, he loves violence and is a bit self destructive. His mistresses, pimps, thugs and drug runners are not very nice either, anybody who's not scum is a victim. He seems to wander in and out of situations without much rhyme or reason, this novel is not strong on plot, its more of a character study in scarlet.

If you like Takashi Miike's yakuza films(
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
guess I'm just not that into yakuza. ...more
Felix Zilich
Oct 14, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime
Кендзо Китаката – один из первых королей японского хардбойла. Автор нескольких десятков романов, обладатель всех престижных национальных наград – от приза Рампо до приза Ёсикавы, бывший президент гильдии японских писателей-детективщиков. Несмотря на это, “Пепел” – его первый перевод на иностранный язык. И в этом нет ничего сенсационного. Романы про якудза – диковинка даже для англоязычного книжного рынка.

По этой причине появление “Пепла” на русских прилавках – большая радость, хотя, честно приз
Jan 02, 2017 rated it did not like it
First 1/3 of the book was some kind of confusion. I don't know why I continued to read. And other 2/3 was nothing dramatic. It's just like a paper. You read about some facts but you don't feel anything. There were 2 or 3 sentences when I almost believed in this book. But it was just 2 or 3 sentences.
It wasn't my first book by Mr. Kitakata, but it was the worst one. I wouldn't spend time on this.
Nov 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Spare, clean Japanese yakuza gangster novel. Really excellent.
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北方 謙三 was the 10th president of the Mystery Writers of Japan (1997-2001). ...more

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