A thought-provoking and disturbing study of the dark side of urban Japan focuses on the sometimes violent subcultures that exist, from the gangsters who control the drug industry and pornographers to far-right proponents of ultranationalism. Tour.
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Karl Taro Greenfeld is the author of seven previous books, including the novel Triburbia and the acclaimed memoir Boy Alone. His award-winning writing has appeared in Harper's Magazine, The Atlantic, The Paris Review, Best American Short Stories 2009 and 2013, and The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2012. Born in Kobe, Japan, he has lived in Paris, Hong Kong, and Tokyo, and currently lives in Pacific Palisades, California, with his wife, Silka, and their daughters, Esmee and Lola.From Booklist:
Americans duped into believing that Japan has few social problems outside of political corruption, horrendous university entrance exams, and the suppression of women into lifelong menial jobs and unsatisfying lives as caretakers for their husbands will be shocked by some of Greenfeld's revelations: widespread methamphetamine use among youth, a booming pornographic industry (as a result of Japan's foray into sexual freedom), and a skyrocketing juvenile larceny rate. Organized crime is a problem also; the Yakuza is being replenished with disillusioned youth from the country's youth gangs, and its proliferation on the Japanese mainland and its rapid expansion overseas are frightening. The "speed tribes," or Bosozoku, is a catch-all term that refers to the plethora of diverse youth subcultures that have spawned as a result of Japan's famous "bubble economy." Japan's obsession with things Western intensified during the boom in the 1980s (now predicted to crash sometime in the 1990s) and is proving disastrous to its social fabric. A day in the life of a computer hacker, the "hostess" industry (with few remnants of the geisha tradition that preceded it), and a motley crew of unconventional Japanese youth as they go about their unconventional and sometimes reckless lives are some of Greenfeld's other subjects. Fascinating reading, will make many Americans rethink stereotypes they may have about the Japanese. Kevin Roddy
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