Translated by Kalau Almony
Soho Crime, May 2018
Ostensibly, this novel begins with a young man who is seeking a woman he has known who apparently had entered the strange world of a cult, which he then joins in an attempt to find her. As he progresses in his quest, the reader is exposed to a variety of topics, ranging from sex and violence to religion, astrophysics and neuroscience.
This gives the author the opportunity to write about all kinds of subjects, with long discourses ranging from good and evil to Japanese politics, from war criminals to peace. Perhaps inspired by the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, the novel is an examination of what attraction extremism has to most people.
The reader has to plow through more than 500 pages of this material, struggling to grasp all the meanings and context in what starts out as a simple love story. And the task is hardly easy. It takes a lot of effort and for that reason it is rated lower than one would expect a book written by this author, whose past works received [deservedly] higher ratngs. Nevertheless, Nakamura pushes us to the limits in his writings, which have made him one of the top Japanese authors. For this reason, for those willing to stick with it, Cult X is recommended.
Reviewed by Ted Feit, May 2018.