The Rope Artist
The aftermath of the murder of a bondage teacher reveals the darkest corners of the human mind in this chilling new mystery from the master of Japanese literary noir.
Two detectives. Two identical women. One dead body— then two, then three, then four. All knotted up in Japan’s underground BDSM scene and kinbaku, a form of rope bondage which bears a complex cultural history of spirituality, torture, cleansing, and sacrifice.
As Togashi, a junior member of the police force, investigates the murder of a kinbaku instructor, he finds himself unable to resist his own private transgressive desires. In contrast, Togashi’s Sherlock Holmesian colleague Hayama is morally upright to a fault, with a stalwart commitment to the truth and nearly superhuman powers of deduction. When Hayama notices a dangerous measure of darkness within Togashi, he embarks on a parallel investigation, which soon spirals out of control.
Unflinching in its flayed-raw treatment of identity, violence, sexuality, power, the occult, and the divine, The Rope Artist is both viscerally painful and unexpectedly hopeful—a genre homage that shines a light on the most dangerous elements of the human psyche.
Praise for The Rope Artist
Praise for The Rope Artist
“Nakamura specializes in combining elements from disparate genres. The Rope Artist, translated by Sam Bett, is his most extreme juxtaposition yet. The book mixes the tropes and trappings of a noir novel with the tortured perceptions of a Poe protagonist and the cruel pleasures of the Marquis de Sade.”
—Tom Nolan, The Wall Street Journal
“[Nakamura] employs the tactics of pulp novelists to tell a story that exists somewhere in the nexus of grindhouse and Shinto religious practices. The surprisingly philosophical narrative also investigates power dynamics in sexual relationships, and the nature of dominance and submission in role play.”
—The Toronto Star
“Nakamura’s cool, calculated prose is the perfect fit for this seedy tale.”
“Nakamura has a penchant for the dark and depraved . . . A mind-bending mystery that burrows into the brains of its characters and excavates the darkness of their inner lives.”
“Nakamura fearlessly portrays violence, eroticism and inner darkness that slowly unravels like a tangled rope.”
“A surreal tsunami of sex, politics, religion, imperialism, and haunting memories . . . Identities are altered, licentious secrets revealed in Nakamura’s unflinching, emotionally charged rewarding read.”
—The National Book Review
“The Rope Artist is full of damaged lives and dark reflection, more concerned with what (often very twisted things) lurks within the heart than laying out a neat murder-mystery.”
—The Complete Review
“Raw eroticism, untethered justice, unreliable narratives, and psychological twists infuse this complex literary mystery with edgy danger and lingering existential questions.”
“Gorgeous and lurid. Definitely not for the faint of heart.”
—Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine
“[Nakamura] produces a stunning climactic surprise that will make you think of this particular case, and erotic bondage generally, in a whole new way. Spellbinding.”
Praise for Fuminori Nakamura
Japan Objects' Best Japanese Authors of All Time
“[A] lurid and intellectually ambitious new thriller . . . Every time you think you grasp what’s going on, Nakamura reminds you that you are not in control here. Perhaps you are never in control.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Nakamura's impassioned writing is part of a continuum that stretches from Dostoevsky to Camus to Ōe.”
—Los Angeles Times
“You’ll think about Nakamura’s questions long after you’ve closed his book’s covers.”
“[Nakamura] has made a career out of pushing the boundaries of existential horror, shining a light on the darkest shadows of humanity . . . This chilling psychological mystery about a violent crime promises not to disappoint. Expect anything but a happy ending.”
—The Japan Times