Sunday, 2 August 2009

Book of the Week and bibliography - David Peace, Occupied City

Occupied City is the second book in the Tokyo Trilogy by David Peace, and is a striking and unusual novel. Peace has had huge publicity this year, as a result of the success on television of Red Riding and in the cinema of The Damned United. He has an unusual writing style, which has become more pronounced in Occupied Territory, favouring repetition and use of multiple voices. His writing style does not appeal to everyone, and will probably come as a considerable shock to anyone buying this novel based on their experience of the television or cinema adaptations of the earlier books. Occupied City has received some very polarised reviews, with at least as many negative as positive. Nonetheless, if approached in the way you might approach poetry, this novel (and Peace’s earlier books) have much to offer. Peace has given a number of interviews recently indicating that he only intends to write twelve novels. He has accumulated a significant body of work and is certainly a writer worth investigating, and collecting.

David Peace was born in 1967 and grew up in Ossett, near Wakefield. He left Manchester Polytechnic in 1991, and went to Istanbul to teach English. In 1994 he took up a teaching post in Tokyo and lived there with his family for a number of years. He has recently returned to the UK. His formative years were shadowed by the activities of the Yorkshire Ripper, and this had a profound influence on him which led to a strong interest in crime. His quartet of Red Riding books grew from this obsession with the dark side of Yorkshire. These are powerful novels of crime and police corruption, using the Yorkshire Ripper as their basis and inspiration. They are entitled Nineteen Seventy-Four (1999), Nineteen Seventy-Seven (2000), Nineteen Eighty (2001), and Nineteen Eighty-Three (2002), and have been translated into French, Italian, German and Japanese. In 2003 David Peace was named by Granta magazine as one of twenty 'Best of Young British Novelists'. His novel, GB84, set amid the 1984 miners' strike, was published in 2005. His most recent books are The Damned Utd (2006), recreating Brian Clough's time at Leeds United Football Club; and Tokyo Year Zero (2007), the first of a trilogy set in Tokyo in the aftermath of World War II. Occupied City is the second book in this trilogy.

'We all know what this could be: we know it could be dysentery, we know it could be typhoid. In the "Occupied City", we all know what this could mean -' Tokyo, January 26th, 1948. As the third year of the US Occupation of Japan begins, a man enters a downtown bank. He speaks of an outbreak of dysentery and says he is a doctor, sent by the Occupation authorities, to treat anyone who might have been exposed. Clear liquid is poured into sixteen teacups. Sixteen employees of the bank drink this liquid according to strict instructions. Within minutes twelve of them are dead, the other four unconscious. The man disappears along with some, but not all, of the bank's money. And so begins the biggest manhunt in Japanese history. In "Occupied City", David Peace dramatises and explores the rumours of complicity, conspiracy and cover-up that surround the chilling case of the Teikoku Bank Massacre: of the man who was convicted of the crime, of the legacy of biological warfare programmes, and of the victims and survivors themselves.


The Red Riding Quartet
1999 Nineteen Seventy-Four (Serpent's Tail, paperback)
2000 Nineteen Seventy-Seven (Serpent's Tail, paperback)
2001 Nineteen Eighty (Serpent's Tail, hardcover)
2002 Nineteen Eighty-Three (Serpent's Tail, paperback)

2004 GB84 (Faber, paperback)
2006 The Damned Utd (Faber, paperback)

Tokyo Trilogy
2007 Tokyo Year Zero (Faber, hardcover)
2009 Occupied City (Faber, hardcover)

No comments: