Nagasaki is a story about a life of a lonely man, who lives his peaceful life in Nagasaki. One day he finds out that somebody else is living in his house and he did not even notice it. The story is based on a true incident published by Japanese media in 2008.
In the beginning Shimura-san tried to convince himself that it was only an illusion. Every time when he had a feeling that there was a little bit missing from his food or maybe that the things were not at their place. He tried to make himself believe that his feelings were only paranoias. Until one day, when his suspicions were so strong that Shimura-san could not get rid of a conviction that something was wrong. He started to measure the juice in the fridge to find out whether there is less then before. And he finds out that there was less. Similar stories take him to a decision to buy a webcamera and install it into the kitchen. At work he stares on the monitor hoping to see someething or someone. He examines the monitor carefully, and then, suddenly, he sees a woman´s silhoutte. Then he calls the police.
After the interrogation at the police station he finds out that the woman lived at his place for a year. She used to stay in the tatami room which he almost never entered and she was sleeping on the upper shelf of the closet. That is when we come to know about the story of her live. The woman lost her job in her fifties and she was not able to find another one. Soon she could not pay the rent, so she decided to leave her neighborhood and started to live on the street. When it was nice outside it was not that bad. She found a shelter in the outlying parts of the city where she slept and she used to eat what she found on the street. However, as the winter was coming, she could not go on with this way of live anymore. One day, she roamed to the disctrict where Shimura lived, and observing him several days, she found out that he never locks his house. One day she decided to enter the house. She just wanted to rest for a moment. She had a shower and then she fell asleep. Since she felt very pleasantly, she decided to stay.
The revelation of the uninvited guest causes that Shimura-san cannot feel like at home in his own house. All this incident is a big change in his life, everything is somehow different. However, it is very hard for him to describe the difference. Eventuallly, he decides to sell the house.
In this simple story the author points out the current problems not only of the Japanese society. Aging population, loneliness, incapability of older people to find employment are common issues also in the European society. Marginally, the story mentions also the current difficulties in Japan at that time such as the financial crisis and how it affects the everyday life of people. It is a tiny novel with an interesting story. The author tries to point out some of the paradoxes of today´s society. Unfortunately, at least to me, the way he puts it is sometimes superficial, especially when it comes from Shimura, who is not a very developed character and some of his internal monologues just give a shallow impression.
Overally, I liked the novel, and despite of being written by a French writer, it has that Japanese atmosphere that you can find in books by Japanese authors. Basically, the story deals with an ordinary man, whose existence is almost unnoticed. No family, no friends. A present-day life in a big city.