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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (203 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: David Peace Narrator: A Full Cast Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Tokyo Trilogy Release Date:
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On January 26, 1948, a public health official arrives at a branch of the Teikoku Bank in Tokyo. There has been an outbreak of dysentery in the neighborhood, he tells the manager, and he has been assigned by Occupation authorities to treat all locals who might have been exposed.

The sixteen members of the staff gather as the official pours the first of two separate medicines into sixteen cups and instructs them in how exactly to drink it. Within five minutes, ten employees are dead and the official has fled. But the horrific crime is merely the catalyst for this blistering novel.

In twelve different voices—each telling the story of the murder from a singular perspective—the narrative gathers staggering power and pathos. We hear one of the victims speak from the grave. We read the increasingly mad notes of one of the case detectives, the desperate letters of an American occupier, and the testimony of a traumatized survivor. We meet a journalist, a gangster-turned-businessman, a man who calls himself “The Occult Detective,” a Soviet soldier, and a well-known painter accused and convicted of the crime. Every voice enlarges and deepens the portrait of a people making their way out of a war-induced hell. Wittingly or unwittingly, each one of them plays a part in blurring the line between truth and lies: in their own lives, in the life of their city, their history, their nation, the newly emerging postwar world.

A stunningly audacious work of fiction, Occupied City envelops the reader in its extreme time and place with its brilliantly idiosyncratic, expressionistic, and mesmerizing narrative. 

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Quotes & Awards

  • Occupied City is an extraordinary and highly original crime novel…This is a truly remarkable work. It is hugely daring, utterly irresistible, deeply serious and unlike anything I have ever read.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “This is a savagely beautiful, richly startling novel…The raw beauty of Peace’s language envelops you…He is an astonishing storyteller.”

    Times (London)

  • “The novels Peace produces are uncommonly serious about the nature of the tissues that bind together history, rumour, politics, psychology, community and fiction.”

    Observer (London)

  • “A marvellous book.”

    Daily Telegraph (London)

  • “Undoubtedly one of the best British novelists working today.”

    Birmingham Post (UK)

  • “Like the novels of Stieg Larsson, Peace’s books are fueled by political passion…Occupied City [is] genuinely hypnotic…Peace’s incantations seem to me to achieve exactly the kind of urgency and intensity he is aiming for…It’s no wonder that several critics have compared its mood to Eliot’s The Waste Land.”

    Harper’s

  • “Peace’s breathtaking skill renders all [the voices] vividly, forcefully alive…His pulp-modernist style feels honed and refined to scalpel-sharp efficiency…Peace is like a fearsome tornado turning the world on its head.”

    Financial Times 

  • “Hypnotic postmodern noir of almost unrivaled fury…Expect to be enthralled and maybe amazed…Peace, a gifted fictional ventriloquist, takes us inside the mental extremities of characters…Hardly any writer can invoke T. S. Eliot and ‘The Waste Land’ and expect to get away with it, but Peace does. He’s an original and ambitious writer. [Occupied City] takes no prisoners.”

    Los Angeles Times Book Review

  • “A genre-busting mystery and meditation on the ambiguity of elusive reality…Peace writes with boatloads of style…The most compelling character is Tokyo itself, a ruined city in a ruined country, a place of shadows and lies that feels not unlike Vienna in ‘The Third Man’ or wartime Europe in Alan Furst’s novels. This backdrop shows how deliberate, bold, and deadly serious Peace is.”

    Austin American-Statesman

  • “A tour de force…In Rashômon fashion, a number of disparate characters offer dramatically different perspectives on a horrific crime that claims 12 lives…Peace humanizes his characters and provides subtle insights into how they interpret the facts of the mass murder. This literary thriller will more than satisfy readers with a taste for ambiguity.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “The multiple narrators help sort out the many points of view Peace uses to tell his story. The novel bogs down at points, but the first-rate reading makes this an audiobook experience that improves on the text.”

    AudioFile

  • “Maintain[s] the fast pace of a historical thriller…This original amalgam of storytelling, history, and style compares to Haruki Murakami in its content and scope but challenges the reader to unravel the mystery in 12 distinct voices.”

    Library Journal

  • Occupied City is a stunning—and stunningly challenging—novel, a product of extensive historical research, remarkable imagination, and deep insight. It is certainly among the best books of the new year.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Powerful and ambitious…Peace [is] immensely talented.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • ABooklist Editors’ Choiceof2010: Adult Fiction
  • APublishers Weekly Best Audiobookof2010: Full-Cast Production

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Nathanael Booth | 12/21/2013

    " David Peace follows his spectacular "Tokyo Year Zero" with a book that is, if possible, even more staggering: a twelve-voiced account of a notorious mass murder that took place in Tokyo in 1948. Much has been made of his debt to "Rashomon," and comparisons have also been drawn between this novel and "The Waste Land," but what is most fascinating to me is the way Peace once more draws parallels between the murders that form the basis of the book and the destructive impact of war on those who participate in it. As in the previous novel, the killer here (insofar as he is ever truly revealed) is the product of atrocities committed during WWII on behalf of the Japanese army. Peace makes it clear, however, that the Japanese were far from the only ones engaged in the horrifying experiments with bacteriological warfare; every nation, victor and vanquished, is culpable in the crimes and also in their covering-up. The rot here is all-pervasive. Peace also delivers an interesting meditation on the role of the author-as-medium, especially when the author’s theme is an historical event. This matches the voice here: incantatory, mesmerizing, drawing up the voices of people who have died and who, perhaps, never lived—weaving them together into a story that is as intriguing as it is distressing. This is the second novel in a trilogy; Peace has said that he has an overarching plan for the series, so it should be interesting to see what direction he takes from here. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Tom Spooner | 12/14/2013

    " A good book. Very interesting format and I liked the Roshomon idea. As grim as the other David Peace books. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Amy Warrick | 10/14/2013

    " I had read 'Tokyo Year Zero', by the same author, and thought it strange but fascinating. This one was unreadable. I think I made it to the third chapter. I need a straight-forward narrative, some descriptions, some structure, and I found nothing of the sort here. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Graham | 10/9/2013

    " A difficult read at times. Heavy going in places. You have to get in the zone to read it. "

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About the Author
Author David Peace

David Peace is the author of the Red Riding Quartet series and was chosen as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists in 2003. He is the author of six previous novels, published in the UK: the four novels of the Red Riding Quartet, GB84, and The Damned Utd. He was born and raised in West Yorkshire and now lives in the East End of Tokyo with his wife and children.