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Issue 1753 (PDF)
The student newspaper of Imperial College London

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Japanese magical realism: The Miracles of the Namiya General Store by Keigo Higashino

Books Editor Jia Qi Tan reviews and compares two works of Japanese magical realism.

Screenshot 2021 02 13 At 1828 06 Photo: scsc


in Issue 1753


The Miracles of the Namiya General Store

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Three thieves accidentally come across an abandoned general store with a mailbox which contained simple letters from the past, dropping in asking for advice, and there began the story of this magical store. The Miracles of the Namiya General Store by Keigo Higashino (translated by Sam Bett) covers a lot more than what can be written here. Such a story is not what I would ever expect from Higashino, a powerhouse of thrillers and crime fictions, including some of my personal favorites The Devotion of Suspect X and Malice. It reminds me of how Stephen King could write a story as hopeful as “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” but also a tale as dark as “Apt Pupil” within the same collection of short stories. 

The storytelling is both unique and brilliant. Higashino’s background proves to be very useful in crafting the suspense portion of the book. His whimsical writing style fits the magical realism genre and makes for a very pleasant reading experience, which is especially needed since we jump between different timelines. The plot is almost as good as its storytelling. All the characters are beautifully fleshed out and every detail comes together to weave an unexpected, heartwarming story. The book ultimately is about redemption, kindness, empathy, and how our words and actions can influence others; it is a worthy message and what makes the story so touching. To end it with one of my favorite passages from the book, “Your map is still blank. Even if you try to set a destination, you do not even know where the path is. But because it’s blank, you can draw any map. Everything is free and the possibilities are endless. I sincerely hope you believe in yourself and live your life to the fullest.”  

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