Lonely Hearts Killer
Taking on a subject that is still largely avoided in Japan, this powerful thriller explores the threat posed by an emperor, even in a ceremonial role, to a democratic government. Set in a fictional island country, the novel is told from the perspective of a group of young adults who are embroiled in their private problems of friendship, work, and sex. Much of the plot is revealed though their internet postings, which gradually become a tool of resistance when the country's popular young emperor dies and his sister is next in line to the throne. In the confusion that follows, martial law is declared and the populace, obsessed with fears about personal and national security, agrees to accept a new authoritarian government. Horrified by the rapid swing in the nation's politics, the main characters confront the brutality that is eroding support for basic rights and environmental and humanitarian reforms.