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3.27  ·  Rating details ·  503 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Fifty-seven-year-old Takeshi has just been involved in a traffic accident. When he wakes up, he is in a strange bar and is no longer crippled as he has been for most of his life, but able to walk without crutches in his everyday business suit. Looking around, he sees a number of familiar faces—Izumi, a colleague who had died in a plane crash five years before; his childhoo ...more
Hardcover, 191 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Alma Books (first published 2003)
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3.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  503 ratings  ·  45 reviews

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Mar 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2009, asian
"The false death of dreams. The real death of the afterlife. Hell and the world of the living. They're all connected."

Yasutaka Tsutsui has taken an eraser and rubbed out that line that separates life and death; the two become intertwined flowing seamlessly through dreams and wakefulness. In death there is Hell. In life there is Hell. And after recently finishing Ubik this was one helluva book to start.

"You know what Hell is? It's just a place without God. The Japanese don't believe in God to beg
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: big-red-circle
The yakuza were fun and the plane crash was a scream.

"'You know what Hell is? It's just a place without God. The Japanese don't believe in God to begin with, so what's the difference between this world and the world of living?'"
Mar 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japanese
There's not really much to tell about the plot of this book. Basically, there's none - you read about people who died and went to (Japanese version... I guess) of Hell. You read about how they died and about people they left behind. It's not really possible to describe this any further so I'll just write what I liked about this book.

The chaos. That sums it up pretty good.
I generally like fragmentary prose, where you collect bits of information and it slowly starts to make sense towards the end
I expected more. I was confused all the time and I didn't have time to make some opinion to any character.
Jan 31, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Borrowed from Stanton library. This looks like a easy book to read from the author of PAPRIKA.


Finished the book but didn't like it. The plot is minimal, the characters undeveloped and I could not see the point of the book. Characters are described briefly and the nature of their death then their new existence in Hell, except the difference between Reality and Hell is blurred. I just didn't get this book.

From the back cover:

Hell is a place where three days can last as long as ten years on ear
Feb 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
"You know what Hell is? It's just a place without God. The Japanese don't believe in God to begin with, so what's the difference between this world and the world of the living?"
"I suppose you're right" said Takeshi, without giving the matter much thought.

And so begins Yasutaka Tsutsui's surreal ride into the afterlife. The narrative is often disjointed giving a dream like atmosphere to the book and blurring the lines between the world of the living and "Hell" where our unfortunate characters fi
Shijiru Posible
Aug 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
A great book which explores the realm of "hell" and the dead.
Jun 04, 2019 rated it liked it
First, this is more of an experience than a linear story. There isn't any notable horror, it's more of a slow meander through one interpretation of hell while briefly meeting a few characters within it. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, it's just not the impression I got from the blurb. On the topic of the misleading blurb, I didn't find it 'witty' or 'amusing', but it did have a dream-like quality. It is also quite short, so if this sounds vaguely interesting I would recommend giving ...more
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, library-list
A little hard to follow, but when you do catch on it has a nice, dark sense of humor.
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
The humorous sadism that it had was a dark sight for sore eyes. Making one question the existence of God or how the function of hell really is.
Mar 25, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japanese-books
I have to say it's been a while since I read a book this quickly and with so much enthusiasm. I can't pinpoint what made me so fascinated but I just kept on turning a page after a page.

Tsutsui paints a unique vision of hell, free from the usual gore. In the novel the line between the world we live in and hell is blurred. The more we get to know the numerous characters that appear in it, the more the two worlds merge together. It goes to such an extent that at the end of the book, one may feel t
Nov 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Ever since I discovered Yukio Mishima in my early 20s I've had a thing for modern Japanese literature, and I have a membership to the Japanese library in town that I visit as often as I can, where I usually pick up something I've never heard of before and give it a whirl. That's how I came across this book, and I lucked out.

I suppose it's a little more psychedelic an disjointed than I like my books to be, but there was still enough cohesion in the various story lines that I was able to stay wit
Jan 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
"Hell" was not what I expected and I was pleasantly surprised.

Tsutsui questioned on what we perceived to be Hell, commenting on various traditional beliefs of Hell. It definitely made me question about what I thought was Hell. I quite like like Tsutsui's style. It's different to what I'm used to reading. It almost has a dream-like quality assigned to it, as seen in "Paprika".

Some of the scenes may be a bit too sexual for some readers, but it all contributes to the theme of 'what is keeping us fr
Xian Xian
Hell is the first Yasutaka Tsutsui novel i have read. it was a short and light read and quite enjoyable. i like the whole theme about hell and how people can view hell differently and the fact that death is the removal of all human desires. It's quite thought provoking, but it doesn't bore you with lectures and rants about religion or heaven and hell. it also has a sort of magical realism to it, which I found surprising because I thought Yasutaka was a science fiction author, but I guess he writ ...more
Veronika KaoruSaionji
Oct 22, 2009 rated it it was ok
Nightmarish. Dreams, afterlife and rality together. I felt lost there. Terrible scene of torturing handsome boy by young yakuza men from another gang, who masturbating by it - I felt sick by it (it caused me strong nauzea). And I dont know if that boy survive this torturing or not! Yakuza men let him to live but it may be too late and there were ghost of dead persons, also he was dead (and in hell), too. Why must he so suffer? He was relative innocent (very young and poor) and he suffers in his ...more
Jun 02, 2011 rated it did not like it
I'm not sure what, if any, point there was to this novel. I'm guessing Tsutsui is making some kind of point about the meaninglessness of the lives of contemporary Japanese people, but the narrative is so disjointed and borderline annoying that I don't even really care to waste the brain space to figure out his intentions. Based on the back matter of the jacket, it looks like this was an experimental piece he did on commission for a company - it shows. Easily the worst book I've read this year. T ...more
Feb 03, 2010 rated it it was ok
The book is not boring but I can’t say that it is interesting. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either…and I managed to finish it, well maybe it’s because the book is only consist of 190 pages. Maybe it’s because Tsutsui’s Hell is a boring place but I like the way he creates characters that related to one another. Every character has their own personality and their story is quite fun to read…mostly their story on earth, but when they come to Hell, their story becomes a bit boring.

Full revi
Dec 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Strange wee book. It follows the inter-weaving lives, and deaths, of a group of Japanese people as they pass from life, into Hell. This is not Hell as it is normally portrayed but a numbed, reflective, holding station where the ruminations of the characters on their life are played out.

A quick read and worth looking up if you like the occasional, slightly skewed view of things that you get from some Japanese novels.
Jul 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
The concept for this book was really interesting, but I found it quite confusing as it jumped around all over the place. Sometimes we were in one person's point of view but remembering something that someone else was doing. The characters were interesting even though the book gave a bleak look on human nature.
Derek Baldwin
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a little disappointing. It's well written, and the concept is certainly very original, but the very large cast of characters, none of them particularly central, made it hard for me to identify/empathise with anyone, so it all felt a bit cerebral rather than in any way immersive. Even so, it's an interesting book, short and easy to read, and well worth a try.
Dec 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
An interesting novella. A story that ponders the idea of what is hell like when the characters in the book are not followers of Christianity. There is a few scenes of torture, which were pretty disturbing, but mostly the story is pretty tame. I really like this guy, so will Haruki Murakami fans. Probably.
Amanda Banks
Dec 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: japan
Japanese surrealism about the afterlife. Very Japanese, meaning everything is implied rather than stated outright, morality is not clear-cut (for instance, no one knows why certain people end up in Hell, and it doesn't seem to be well correlated with their actual behavior), and the overall mood is melancholy and wistful. A little slight, but I liked it a lot. Grade: B+.
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: japanese
2* - it was okay

I read for pleasure and pleasure is what I expect to receive from reading. I don't expect being confused, grossed out, annoyed or bored.

Yes the book is written well, but personally, I have no need to read things like this.
Apr 27, 2016 rated it liked it
In a very short summary, it's a more complicated and less understandable surrealistic world than Abe's. And how I really loved Abe's works. Anyhow, if you wanna have a ride to Paprika's dream world and don't want to wake up. This is the book you're looking for.
Oct 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japanese
4.5 really. This was an interesting glimpse into the Japanese cultural construct of the afterlife. It follows several Japanese people as they die and enter hell (not exactly the Western version; in fact there are only Japanese people in this hell). Lovely writing and very Japanese in style.
Robin Edman
Feb 24, 2015 rated it liked it
It's always surprising to enjoy a book with no plot, but I just did it again. This is an interesting variation on the Hell-is-other-people idea. It's more of a hell-is-what-you-make-of-it. I suppose, I don't know. The book is very surreal. The book-is-what-you-make-of-it.
May 14, 2010 rated it liked it
An interesting, though short, novel whose concepts are innovative but whose plot is lacking. At times one feels as unemotional as the characters, but one feels that that may not have been the intended effect.
Nov 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japanese-writers
This is the first book of japanese writer that deals with the spirituality side of human being. Not the cutting edge writing style of Tsutsui-san, only some parts are quite entertaining in that sense. The usual dose of cynicism toward women, as expected from him. As a whole, a nice read.
Jul 05, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: quit
If Hell is boredom then this books makes the land of fire and brimstone seem all too real...
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Yasutaka Tsutsui (筒井 康隆) is a Japanese novelist, science fiction author, and actor. Along with Shinichi Hoshi and Sakyo Komatsu, he is one of the most famous science fiction writers in Japan. His Yumenokizaka bunkiten won the Tanizaki Prize in 1987. He has also won the 1981 Izumi Kyoka award, the 1989 Kawabata Yasunari award, and the 1992 Nihon SF Taisho Award. In 1997, he was decorated as a Cheva ...more
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“Which will you take, the high road or the low road?"

"Which one is longer?"

"They're both short.”
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