The Literary Horizon: Tokyo Beat, Literary Hoaxes

I don’t just read fantasy and sci-fi, you know–I do read nonfiction of my own volition. Could I really call myself an omnivore if I didn’t?

Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan, by Jake Adelstein


From the publisher’s website: “From the only American journalist ever to have been admitted to the insular Tokyo Metropolitan Police press club: a unique, firsthand, revelatory look at Japanese culture from the underbelly up.

At nineteen, Jake Adelstein went to Japan in search of peace and tranquility. What he got was a life of crime . . . crime reporting, that is, at the prestigious Yomiuri Shinbun. For twelve years of eighty-hour workweeks, he covered the seedy side of Japan, where extortion, murder, human trafficking, and corruption are as familiar as ramen noodles and sake. But when his final scoop brought him face to face with Japan’s most infamous yakuza boss—and the threat of death for him and his family—Adelstein decided to step down . . . momentarily. Then, he fought back.

In Tokyo Vice, Adelstein tells the riveting, often humorous tale of his journey from an inexperienced cub reporter—who made rookie mistakes like getting into a martial-arts battle with a senior editor—to a daring, investigative journalist with a price on his head. With its vivid, visceral descriptions of crime in Japan and an exploration of the world of modern-day yakuza that even few Japanese ever see, Tokyo Vice is a fascination, and an education, from first to last.”

This, to me, looks fascinating. I don’t know much about investigative journalism or the criminal underworld of Japan, so that appeals to me. There’s also the aspect of the American who lives abroad, but I think that the heart of the story is really his dealings with the yakuza and the criminal world. I think Adelstein is incredibly brave for standing up to the yakuza and publishing this book instead of giving in. I hope Tokyo Vice will deliver as a true crime novel and a travel novel of sorts.

Tokyo Vice comes out today!

Literary Hoaxes: An Eye-Opening History of Famous Frauds, by Melissa Katsoulis


From the publisher’s website: “When Dionysus the Renegade faked a Sophocles text in 400 BC (cunningly inserting the acrostic “Heraclides is ignorant of letters”) to humiliate an academic rival, he paved the way for two millennia of increasingly outlandish literary hoaxers. The path from his mischievous stunt to more serious tricksters like the fake Howard Hughes “autobiography” by Clifford Irving, Oprah-duper James Frey, takes in every sort of writer: from the religious zealot to the bored student, via the vengeful academic and the out-and-out joker.

But whether hoaxing for fame, money, politics, or simple amusement, each perpetrator represents something unique about why we write. Their stories speak volumes about how reading, writing, and publishing have grown out of the fine and private places of the past into big-business, TV-book-club-led mass-marketplaces which, some would say, are ripe for the ripping.

For the first time, the complete history of this fascinating sub-genre of world literature is revealed. Suitable for bookworms of all ages and persuasions, this is true crime for people who don’t like true crime, and literary history for the historically illiterate. A treat to read right through or to dip into, it will make you think twice next time you slip between the covers of an author you don’t know . . .”

First of all, how perfect is that cover? I want book cake now.

As you may have deduced, literature is a great love of mine, and Literary Hoaxes definitely caught my eye with its history of literary fraud. Why and how do people commit literary fraud, pretending they have the diaries of Hitler or a lost Shakespeare play? It combines bizarre motivations along with great works of art, and covers up to now, with its inclusion of James Frey. It just sounds like an interesting topic.

Literary Hoaxes comes out November 1.

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