Monday, September 9, 2019

ME by Tomoyuki Hoshino

ME by Tomoyuki Hoshino
afterword by Kenzaburō Ōe
translated by Charles De Wolf
narrated by David Shih

Published: 2017
Publisher: Akashic Books
Paperback: 256
Genre: SciFi, Japan
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
I stole the cell phone on nothing more than a spr-of-the-moment whim, without any sense of wanting to do anything with it.

This novel centers on the "It's me" telephone scam--often targeting the elderly--that has escalated in Japan in recent years. Typically, the caller identifies himself only by saying, "Hey, it's me," and goes on to claim in great distress that he's been in an accident or lost some money with which he was entrusted at work, etc., and needs funds wired to his account right away.

ME's narrator is a nondescript young Tokyoite named Hitoshi Nagano who, on a whim, takes home a cell phone that a young man named Daiki Hiyama accidentally put on Hitoshi's tray at McDonald's. Hitoshi uses the phone to call Daiki's mother, pretending he is Daiki, and convinces her to wire him 900,000 yen.

Three days later, Hitoshi returns home from work to discover Daiki's mother there in his apartment, and she seems to truly believe Hitoshi is her son. Even more bizarre, Hitoshi discovers his own parents now treat him as a stranger; they, too, have a "me" living with them as Hitoshi. At a loss for what else to do, Hitoshi begins living as Daiki, and no one seems to bat an eye.

My two-bits:
Creepy and poignant.

Got me thinking of identity and questioning self and responsibilities.

Also, got me thinking of relationships with older family members - parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents.


* weekly theme: Japan

* Listed to the audio version
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Images from: Lovelytocu