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Kobo Abe (1991) The Woman in the Dunes. (First published in 1962)

In this strangely terrifying book Niki Jumpei, an amateur entomologist discovers a bizarre village in the dunes, where residents live in deep sand pits. They take him prisoner. While constantly shoveling sand that threatens to bury the community, Niki struggles to escape. With its bizarre plot Abe has created one of the finest Japanese post-war novels.

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Kobe Abe (2001) The Ruined Map: A Novel.

In this surrealist horror story from Japan the hero, a private investigator, is asked to find a young woman's husband who disappeared over half a year ago. The pursuit leads him into the depth of Tokyo's underworld and the mysteries of the human mind.

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Don Lee (2004) Country of Origin.

Lisa Countryman, a half-Japanese, half-black Berkeley graduate student goes to Japan for her dissertation research, but ends with a job as a hostess girl at a Tokyo men's club. When she disappears, Tom Hurley, lazy junior diplomat at the U.S. Embassy and police detective Kenzo Ota investigate the case, which leads them into the heart of Tokyo's nightlife.

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Laura Joh Rowland (2005) The Assassin's Touch.

The 10th book in the Sano Ichiro mystery series set in 17th century Japan, the hero, now the shogun's chamberlain and second-in-command, returns to his previous role of criminal investigator when the country's top spy, Ejima Senzaemon, drops dead during a horse race. Historical thriller with suspenseful plot, political complications and martial arts.

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Copyright 2012 by Claudia Heilig-Staindl. All Rights Reserved.