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Devils in Daylight

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  380 ratings  ·  54 reviews
One morning, Takahashi, a writer who has just stayed up all night working, is interrupted by a phone call from his old friend Sonomura: barely able to contain his excitement, Sonomura claims that he has cracked a secret cryptographic code based on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Gold-Bug and now knows exactly when and where a murder will take place—and they must hurry if they want ...more
Hardcover, 95 pages
Published April 25th 2017 by New Directions (first published 1918)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  380 ratings  ·  54 reviews

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Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-bought
There is no such thing as a bad Junichiro Tanizaki book. One of my favorite authors, and just had a total delight in reading this very early novella by Tanizaki. Like his other novels, the obsession with sexuality, voyeurism, and morality is here as well. The other subtext is cinema and theater. Probably one of the first narratives dealing with film and its aesthetics as well as culture. The book reads like a story by Edogawa Rampo (my other favorite writer) in that it deals with the decadence ...more
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Minor spoiler warning! I will not spoil the plot of the book (at least not without a tag), but I will talk about the crime that is committed within. If you want to know nothing about the book skip this review, but if you’re interested in my take on what Tanizaki was trying to do with this one, read on.

To say that this book is ahead of its time would be an understatement. Had I not read that it was published in 1912, I would have guessed the 1960s. It is important to have a bit of biographical
Brooke Salaz
May 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Short Japanese novel written in 1918. Another example, not unlike the Strange Tale of Panorama Island, of the influence of Edgar Allen Poe in Japan. There is something weirdly innocent in the creepiness as it unfolds as a pair of friends go to witness a murder foretold. Deception and late night skulking about, coded messages, convenient knotholes for peering onto tableaus involving “murder”. The female character seems as if in a silent movie, her hairstyle and clothing carefully planned and ...more
Dec 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Absorbing read. Next time you feel like going to the cinema, ditch that idea, and read this book instead. Can easily be read in one to two sittings.
Oct 01, 2019 rated it liked it
It was rather exciting and a real page turner right up to the end - then the end was as flat as a pancake.

I had hoped for a more spine tingling thrilling end.
Connor Foley
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ripped through this on the plane. One of my favorite Tanizaki’s that I’ve read (I guess I prefer his earlier work) The descriptions and voyuerism of a critical murder taking place is completely riveting. Wasn’t satisfied with how the story ended up but loved reading this descent into darkness all the same
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
The novel is short – only 87 pages. I do not want to quote or comment too much about what the storyline actually contains. This sort of noir-esque novel can be spoiled easily, although the crime and mystery is not really the strong part of this novel. The excellence of this work comes from the finely-tuned writing that describes the narrator’s experiences. Using only as much as needed, Tanizaki carefully shows the reader the entirety of the story without burdening him with too many words, ...more
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The opening sentence of the novel is: "Sonomura made no secret of the fact that mental illness ran in his family." This has to be the understatement of the entire novella. While the story is told from Takahashi's perspective, Sonomura and his eccentricities play a much larger role.
The novella is about Sonomura and Takahashi witnessing a murder. While Sonomura goes off on a Sherlock Holmes-ish way of deducing the events, Takahashi spends much of the novella worried about his friend's mental
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent Tanizaki short from his early days (1918). It’s quite unlike his other works and the inspiration taken from Poe is quite amusing. The Afterward at the end gave a interesting look into Tanizaki’s Poe fascination and his adaptation/inspiration for this novella. There a a few references to his love of cinema that really make this novel special.
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you like detective fiction, this is a very tight well written novella by a well respected Japanese author. You can see similarities between Tanizaki and later Japanese writer Murakami Haruki, with the noir ish sensibilities. I really enjoyed the ambiguousness of this novella, as the story ends very openly. Overall, this was a nice quick read, pick it up if you can find it.
Cindy Pham
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book, but it was a miss for me. The plot, characters, and tone just weren't intriguing enough for me to feel attached to the story, and when it comes to short books like this, it's imperative to be strong and punchy with so few pages.
Harrison Phinney
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
I didn’t find much depth here. I did appreciate the taut pace, but this story came across as mostly an homage to Poe, and homages rarely interest me. As with all literature, there are plenty of angles to dissect this from, and while the Translator’s Notes were interesting, the story itself is just plain skippable. I am keen to check out some more work by this author, though.
Steve Klemz
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An early work (1918) of Tanizaki. Inspired by Edgar Allen Poe. The books are short, like many authors of the time, they were serialized in weekly publications. What really happens after that last page?
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was, frankly (and perversely appropriately) nuts. The plot, its twists, were unpredictable and surprising. I enjoyed this little gem, in a simple sense (I am but a simple soul), just for its self. Then I read the afterword. I almost didn’t bother, and honestly I seldom do. In this case it revealed layers of meaning I would never have found on my own, all of it linked back the fact that Japanese kanji are so much more complex and have so many potential meanings, and that the title itself ...more
Isaac Baley
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Leigh Anne
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Games without frontiers.

This clever novella tells the story of Sonomura, as seen through the eyes of his writer friend, Takahashi. The dynamic between the two men has a definite Holmes/Watson vibe, as Sonomura plays the eccentric genius and Takahashi dutifully bumbles along after him. And there is, indeed, a mystery involved, one that lures the two men to a remote district late at night by rumors of murder. They are not, however, there to stop a crime, but to observe one. And it just gets
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it

Devils in Daylight by Junichiro Tanizaki

No Spoilers – Don’t Worry

My last read. It is a novella so I read it in two sittings. Actually, you can do it easily in one. The version I had (pictured) ran to 87 pages.

I really enjoyed the book for a number of reasons. Let me get the two more superficial reasons out of the way. Firstly, one of the protagonists is a writer, who, in the opening had stayed up all night chasing a deadline when he got a call from his old friend Sonomura. I can relate to
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Atmospheric and utterly enthralling, Devils in Daylight pulls you in and refuses to let you go until the final word, where upon you are suddenly released, a little dazed and lost, to untangle yourself from the story. This is my first book by Junichiro Tanizaki and boy am I glad I picked this up.

It's a dark, twisted tale exploring morality and humanities eccentricates and perverseness. What is madness for one is another's sanity. The writing is addictive and the atmosphere of the book really
Patrick McCoy
Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Devils In Daylight (1918) is an early short novella from the great Japanese writer Junichiro Tanizaki. It is a mystery story that seems to have been influenced from the likes of Edgar Allan Poe and Edogawa Rampo. Explicitly in the case of Poe as a code from his story "The Gold Bug" is used as a plot device int this story. But it also has many of Tanizaki's themes that will be explored later in other works such as sexual obsession. In this story Takashi is called by his old friend Sonomura out of ...more
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It really is impossible to put down this book once you've started as there is such a powerful, almost poetic, flow to the narration. Inspired by Poe's The Gold Bug, Devils in Daylight adopts Poe's magical quality and brings in an unimaginable depth to what starts off as a deceptively simple story. I also could not stop thinking of Poe's Purloined Letter while reading this as Tanizaki also plays with the concept of 'seeing without realizing that one is being seen by another' and creates a story ...more
A writer is called by his friend, Sonomura, who likes to play the amateur detective but also has a history of mental instability, that he knows exactly when and where a murder will take place that night - if they hurry they can witness it. They stake out the secret location and through peepholes in the knotted wood, become voyeurs at the scene of a shocking crime... But things turn out very different from what they at first seem to be.
Sarah Sammis
Devils in Daylight by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki is a horror novella recently translated by Keith Vincent. He further explains the pun of the original Japanese title (白昼鬼語) and how he did his best to render it in English.

New media inspires re-examination of older media. Keeping in mind that this is a 1918 novel, the new media here is cinema. It had a late introduction to Japan but once it did, it took off.
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
DEVILS IN DAYLIGHT exposes the witchcraft of Gothic fiction in tantalizing light. I was drawn to this cinematic, seductive novel. The thing about books is, they are made for an audience of one at any given time, and this mystery, isolation, danger, and privilege makes it high-stakes. Tanizaki had me breathlessly turning pages, scrutinizing the fervid ecstasy of his coded language for the best view. This novella is an iridescent, small-scale masterpiece that will mark me for life.
Jan 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
An economical, sometimes whimsical nod to Edgar Allen Poe and to the growing influence of cinema. Much of the narrator’s viewpoint is described from an eye-sized peephole. The effect is immediacy—except that the events described are framed as in a peepshow and possibly edited. I liked the muted,hermetic feel to the story. I wondered which character to trust. That uncertainty seems applicable to both the 1918 setting and 2018’s landscape.
Emma Regan
Apr 20, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a really fun short story to read and the dynamic between the two friends, reminded me a bit like Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. I would like to read more of Tanizaki’s work and many other Japanese literature too.
Kristin MB
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
A delightfully odd story. Like the narrator, I found the unfolding of the story to be absurd but found myself completely drawn in. A real treat - great story and great translation.
This is a cinematic, mysterious little novella that explores some majorly dark themes in its brief page count. An excellent one-sitting read.
Donald Quist
Oct 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
My review at Publishers Weekly
Full of twists & turns, very entertaining. Using it for my dissertation on voyeurism in Tanizaki's work - lots of great examples & the afterword contains some useful analyses of the plot.
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Jun'ichirō Tanizaki (谷崎 潤一郎) was a Japanese author, and one of the major writers of modern Japanese literature, perhaps the most popular Japanese novelist after Natsume Sōseki.

Some of his works present a rather shocking world of sexuality and destructive erotic obsessions; others, less sensational, subtly portray the dynamics of family life in the context of the rapid changes in 20th-century