Miyuki Miyabe Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Award-winning Japanese crime author Miyuki Miyabe is known to the English-speaking world primarily through the handful of her intense crime novels available in translation. Miyabe’s translated work is distinguished by imaginative plots at the cutting edge of contemporary society, featuring identity theft, the dark playing fields of the Internet, and extrajuridical vengeance in face of a justice system apparently failing to react effectively to ultravicious crimes. Her focus is on young Japanese women whose violent reaction against the vicissitudes of a rigid, hostile society turns them into explosively charged perpetrators.

The outstanding popular literary success of Miyabe in Japan resulted in one of her prize-winning crime novels, Kasha (1992), being translated into English as All She Was Worth in 1996. Miyabe’s English-language publisher then decided to translate R.P.G. (2001) as Shadow Family in 2004, even though it was not the first novel in the detective Chikako Ishizu series, partly because the novel corresponds tightly to the conventions of the police procedural. Kurosufaia (1998), translated the following year as Crossfire, introduced Miyabe’s detective Chikako Ishizu. Ishizu’s first case in the series involves arson caused by supernatural abilities. In spite of the occurrence of pyrokinesis, the paranormal ability to start fires by willpower alone, the crimes and conflicts featured in Crossfire are realistic and psychologically grounded.

In Japan, Miyabe’s crime fiction has won a huge following, with several of her novels made into films. For the English reader, her well-crafted focus on violent women not only offers psychologically intense portraits but also a close view at the pitfalls and problems of contemporary Japanese society. Ultimately, through her female and male detectives, Miyabe gives voice to those who do not believe that the end justifies the means.

Miyuki Miyabe Bibliography

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Kite, Hanna. “A Burning Mystery.” Review of Crossfire, by Miyuki Miyabe. Time International (Asia Edition), 167, no. 6 (February 13, 2006): 49. Positive review of Crossfire; praises Miyabe for creating fiction that is even stranger than the extremes of real modern Japanese crime, reflects on author’s successful literary ambitions.

Loughman, Celeste. Review of Shadow Family, by Miyuki Miyabe. World Literature Today, 79, nos. 3-4 (September/December, 2005): 86. Perceptive discussion of the crime novel that gives away the ending. Asserts that the novel’s focus on a woman killer links it to Miyabe’s first novel translated into English and to the works of fellow Japanese crime novelist Natsuo Kirino; suggests that Japanese women’s struggle for independence can breed violence.

McLarin, Jenny. Review of Shadow Family, by Miyuki Miyabe. Booklist, 101, nos. 9-10 (January 1, 2005): 828. Generally positive review praising that novel for its imaginative look at the downside of the Internet.

Miyabe, Miyuki. “A Japanese Crime Caper.” Interview by Sally Stanton. Publishers Weekly, 252, no. 3 (January 17, 2005): 37. In-depth interview with author, who talks about her mode of research, concerns with social problems like family breakdown or extremes of consumer society, and her future projects.

Publishers Weekly. Review of All She Was Worth, by Miyuki Miyabe. 243, no. 46 (November 11, 1996): 59. Review of the novel praising its unique portrayal of modern Japanese people falling into consumer debt; lists author’s literary awards earned by 1996.

Williams, Wilda. Review of Shadow Family, by Miyuki Miyabe. Library Journal, 130, no. 3 (February 15, 2005): 124. Balanced review of the novel; considers Miyabe’s social critique too strong.