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The Gun

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  1,095 ratings  ·  210 reviews
In Tokyo a college student’s discovery and eventual obsession with a stolen handgun awakens something dark inside him and threatens to consume not only his life but also his humanity. Nakamura’s Japanese debut is a noir-spun tale that probes the violence inherent to aesthetics.

On a nighttime walk along a Tokyo riverbank, a young man named Nishikawa stumbles on a dead body,
Hardcover, 198 pages
Published January 5th 2016 by Soho Crime (first published 2003)
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Average rating 3.52  · 
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 ·  1,095 ratings  ·  210 reviews

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Jim Fonseca
A young man, a college student, finds a gun one night when he was walking in the rain. He went under an overpass to get out of the rain and found a dead man, shot in the head, with a gun near his right hand. By taking the gun and keeping it, he realizes later that when the body is eventually examined by police the whole nature of the investigation turns from suicide to homicide. Later he also realizes that if the police find him with the gun, would it make him a suspect in what they think is a m ...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: the-japanese
”The thing was that I had found it. The same way that, for instance, some people found pleasure drawing pictures or making music, or they relied on work or women, drugs or religion, I felt like I had discovered what I was passionate about. And for me, that thing was nothing more than the gun. There was nothing wrong with me. That’s what I realized. And I started to relax--I lit a cigarette and leaned back in my chair.”

Nishikawa stumbles upon a dead man in the street. When corpses are in coffins
Mar 16, 2019 rated it liked it
The Gun is the second book I’ve read by master of “Zen Noir” Fuminori Nakamura (but actually the first book he wrote). I found the previous novel I read, The Thief, to be something of a masterpiece. It was as bleak and nihilistic as they come, to such an overwhelming extent that I had to keep putting it down. It was a rather unpleasant little book, but somehow still beautiful and truly noteworthy. While I couldn’t recommend it to everyone, I personally loved it.

Well, don’t go into this one expec
Sam Quixote
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
A university student out walking one night stumbles across a gangster’s corpse and a loaded gun. He pockets the gun and proceeds to go coo-coo bananas over it, slowly deciding that he needs to fire it - at someone. Just ‘cos Chekhov’s rule I guess!

The Gun is not a very good novel. Despite being relatively short at 200 pages, almost all of it is unnecessary filler. There’s a side story involving the student’s dying biological father in a hospital that doesn’t go anywhere; he picks his targets ar
"The gun was everything to me. I was meaningless without it—I felt a savage love toward it. And yet the gun was cold to me. It drove me mad to think that the gun did not care, not even if I were consumed by that darkness. I’m not the one using the gun, I thought. The gun is using me—I was nothing more than a part of the system that activated the gun."

While walking in the rain at night, a young college student called Nishikawa stumbles upon a gun beside a dead body. On the spur of the moment,
Jessica Woodbury
I have a soft spot for noir and a soft spot for Japanese crime fiction, so this was an easy pick. Japanese noir works well in THE GUN, with the detached emotional style of a noir, the slowly building narrative, the plot that gets gradually more complex. But THE GUN gives us that old noir style in a very modern setting. There are cell phones and ballistics labs and all kinds of 21st century trappings in this story of a college student who stumbles on a body and a gun.

His attachment to the gun is
2 1/2 to 3 stars (I'm wavering here because I like this writer so much and his style-focused on psychological intensity, sometimes to the expense of all else-generally really works for me).

While translated and released in English well after better-known Nakamura works like The Thief and Evil and the Mask, The Gun is the author's first published work. Readers familiar with Nakamura's novels will observe that many elements of his mature style are already present here: the close, almost obsessive f
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have a suspicion a Goodreads friend turned me on to this book. Thank you whoever you are. This was great!

This reminded me of Georges Simenon and also of Albert Camus, The Stranger. A young man in his early 20s, a university study, one night after walking aimlessly for a long period of time in the rain finds a gun next to a dead person, takes it, and from then on, the gun takes over his life. Prior to this Nishikawa was perfectly normal, albeit bored with his life. After finding the gun and now
lark benobi
The storytelling follows a satisfying if predictable noir arc; the real dazzle for me isn't in the storytelling, though, but in the grotesque details, meticulously observed and reported by the narrator, about both humans and animals that he observes in pain throughout the novel. This is Nakamura's first novel and it demonstrates a lot of self-control and natural talent for pacing. ...more
May 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is an extraordinarily bleak and gripping debut about a student - alienated, disaffected. He finds a gun - and little by little the gun eats into his being, takes him over. He sleeps with a girl whose name he can’t remember (she gives him toast so he enters her in his phone under T for Toast Girl), meets another girl whom he thinks he might fancy .. but the gun is always there, crying out first to be carried around, then to be fired .... The extraordinary thing is that we actually get to car ...more
This author deserves the term ‘Japanese noir’. Excellent novel, though very different from most of the thrillers one usually reads. Especially the athmosphere and the MC are very well described.
Strangely enough I’m rereading L'Étranger at the moment and the ressemblence between both MC was striking.
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I remember reading a review which called The Gun "masterwork from one of the best modern practitioners of the crime novel. " I couldn't agree more. How the discovery of a Gun beside a dead body psychologically affects a student is portrayed beautifully. The protagonist of this book is not the student- it's the Gun-made into an entity by the amazing narration that brings it to life. ...more
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
An empty, almost robotic young man finds a gun. He is suddenly in possession of joy and purpose and pleasure and power. His entire existence becomes focused on the has given an empty life meaning. Look out....this can't end well. ...more
Stephy Simon
Aug 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Gun is the story of a college student, Nishikawa, who became obsessed with a Gun which he stole. Nishikawa came across the gun while he was strolling aimlessly on a rainy night, lying near a body drenched in blood. The sight of the gun brought an intense joy in him, and he began to feel that- 'the gun was mine'. 

Leaving the body, behind he took the gun and left.

Nishikawa slowly becomes obsessed with the gun. He held the gun like a treasure, with his thoughts always returning to the gun, deta
The Gun by Fuminori Nakamura reads like a short, interesting case study of a hapless, overbearing young college male student and his self destructive mentality, but the is really bizarre and unsatisfying. 3 stars only.
Jul 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
Out walking one rainy night, nihilistic college student Nishikawa finds a corpse and, beside it, a gun. On impulse he steals the gun, which he discovers still has four bullets left in it. Over the succeeding weeks he becomes obsessed with the weapon, polishing it lovingly and slowly coming to the realization that merely possessing a gun isn't enough. Meanwhile, he's having sex-on-demand with a girl whose name we never learn and whom he seems not even to like or fancy very much, while at the same ...more
Oct 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have to admit, I almost gave up reading this book. Luckily I continued.
Beginning of this book, story, was really annoying. The young ("I am too old for all these"!!!), unsettled (only in my view, seemed to be well settled in his life), Japanese fellow found a gun on his way home. Unbelievable how much attraction (polished it and looked at it all the time) and change to his lifestyle caused this gun. Really liked the bit when policeman (he knew it all) visited him at his unit. The second part of
Will E
Dec 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Nakamura is not my favorite writer/stylist (seems to come from the Murakami no-style school of "Tell, not show"), and yet this was an extremely readable portrait of a young sociopath. Despite some flat writing, Nakamura has a keen eye for character and pace; becomes a real page-turner in the latter half. Enjoyed this more than The Thief, which also had good character work, but I found plot wise to be a little cliched. ...more
Marina Sofia
Dec 14, 2015 rated it liked it
An extended metaphor about how owning a weapon sparks violent behaviour and an insight into the inner workings of an obsessive psychopath. Disturbing progression of detachment from the world around him. Suspenseful moments alternate with an odd apathy, but the 'flat' storytelling style works well with the noir, existential context. ...more
Emmy Hermina Nathasia
My third book from Nakamura. I don’t know, the obsession one has on an object.. while I try my hardest to follow the plot, it just left me with bafflement. While other plots usually provide a background of clarity of sort on the why, this book does not really do so. The ending is a bit surprising really, which help to increase the excitement. Otherwise a bit too monotone for me. Although the protagonist’s obsession with coffee really resonates with me! My rating 3.5.
May 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an unsettling one, I'm sure deliberately. It feels a little nightmarish, and definitely has a pull. It's got an oddness to it that is very interesting. I definitely need to check out more Nakamura. ...more
Well, that was...
Jun 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: noir, translated
I didn't get the money and I didn't get the woman.

This is definitely a book that appears better in the rear view mirror. While Fuminori Nakamura's debut novel The Gun passes my "Double Indemnity test" of great noir stories, its execution fell completely flat to me.

I partially blame the translation. The dialogue was extremely stilted in English. None of the characters sounded like real people. I have some passing knowledge of Japanese and can tell most of this is due to an almost literal tran
A.K. Kulshreshth
Sep 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
I am glad this book made it into the translated world many years after it was published in Japanese, and I am lucky I found it in my local library's Overdrive catalogue by chance.

Other have explained this in better language: this is a work that continues and enriches a long tradition of "not normal" characters. Think Dostoevsky, Camus, Simenon, Mishima.

It is interesting that two films have been based on it, a 2018 version based on a book and a 2020 one that is a retelling in which the main char
Dec 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
If there is such a genre as “paranoid noir,” then THE GUN is it. Fuminori Nakamura is making a name for himself here in the States and rightfully so. His first book to be translated to English, THE THIEF, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. THE GUN isn’t for those readers who expect nonstop action. This is a book to be savored, and yes, you’ll white-knuckle it but not due to an adrenaline rush so much as the impending dread that something horrible is going to happen. Nakamura ex ...more
Oct 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a very dark book. It is very well written for what it is-but it's not really a book I'd recommend to others. The book is really about THE GUN. A guy finds a gun and his whole being, personna, emotions,etc. all suddenly revolve around the gun. And it goes from him being in control of the gun to the gun controlling him. ...more
Joe Santoro
May 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: thriller-caper
This book is definitely not what I expected... I was expecting a noir book with a Japanese tint, but really it's a character sketch.

The book is written in the first person, and follows a bored, frustrated college student as he finds a gun on the ground and what possessing the weapon does to his mental state.

I can see that Nakamura could write a more traditional noir book.... the detective that makes a brief appearance is a fun, Columbo-like character that was FAR more likeable that the main char
Gail Cooke
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
This noir tale (the Shincho Prize-Winning Debut) is uncomfortable to read yet totally compelling. The discomfort may be caused by having a good idea where the story is going and simply not wishing to go there. Yet, in many ways it is irresistible - the prose is spare, artistically written.

Nakamura wastes no time in setting his stage as the story opens on a dark rainy night when young Nishikawa walks without aim, “The relentlessness of the rain” seeming to symbolize his own melancholy. There you
Jun 09, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. This is the second novel I have read by Nakamura. He is really talented and has a very unique style and structure to his writing. The Gun centers around a young man who stumbles across a dead man with a gun near him. He impulsively steals the gun and soon becomes obsessed with it. It changes the way he thinks, acts and lives his life. The gun makes him feel powerful but it becomes a character of its own and the young man begins to lose control over his thoughts. Soon he becomes obsess ...more
Hengenaut Hengenautson
Jun 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A meticulous, crisply imagined narration of irredeemable descent. Its measured pace and enveloping sense of dissociation lead to passages that are literally chilling and allow the story to function as both a tale of tragic violence and a wider indictment of the cultural pressures that ineluctably form such events out of the machine-pressed pate of modern identity. The translation is fluid and precise, and renders the author's careful work with enormous skill. The book is filled with lovely sente ...more
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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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“if that guy dies, or doesn’t die—what does it matter? None of it is a big deal. None of it, at all. What matters doesn’t exist.” 0 likes
“In order to change the direction of my thinking, I tried taking the opposite position: why shouldn't I shoot someone? It was difficult to come up with an answer. It was a well-known fact that the world was full of people who didn't deserve to live, myself included, and the existence of the death penalty was societally accepted - whatever that tells you about society. And, after all, the fact that guns existed was also accepted as a matter of course. Conveniently, there was a person living in the apartment next door to me who would be better off dead. At that moment, it felt as if my thoughts had taken on a concrete movement of their own. Naturally, I would lose my freedom if I were caught, but I just needed to figure out how not to get arrested.” 0 likes
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