Here is a book that takes the reader on a special journey through modern Japan. Our intrepid hero, Martin, a Canadian of Polish descent who lived in Tokyo for 10 years, takes us by the hand, and with his Irish sidekick, Sean, leads us through the wonders of this fascinating place – not the wonders that most people are familiar with, not the economic miracle and the bright lights – no, he takes us through a far quirkier, but at the same time far more human, land of wonky beer machines on hot sultry nights in downtown Tokyo. He takes us on the road, hitch-hiking around Japan, to Japan’s famous bathing culture, through the jungle of sexual politics, and explains to us, clearly and cleverly, what Gaijins (that’s non-Japanese folk to you and me) must do to survive in this enchanting land.
The book can be read on many levels. It is part cultural guide, part anthropological tract, guiding us through the mass of Japanese uniqueness and showing that, in fact, we are all just, well, people – and part modern day Don Quixote, discoursing on issues of the day. Bruczkowski’s novel is a delight that will be loved by those that live and have lived in Japan, those thinking of doing so and those that, perhaps, should do so. However many volumes on Japan they may have collected, this book will show them a different aspect of the country and will shake many established views on the subject. Above all, the book is extremely funny and at times moving, with plenty of dialogue, lively, fast-moving action accompanied by many photos and graphics that add to the feeling of realism. Facts about Japan are never presented in a descriptive form – they are discovered through the adventures of the protagonist and his friends, or in conversations with other characters, both foreigners and Japanese.
Joe Harper, writer
“Sleepless in Tokyo” is a modern work of fiction centred on Japan. The author uses an approach that is purposefully specific and subjective. He combines an autobiographical motive with literary fiction in a free, but successful and attractive manner. The result is an insightful vision of Japan, a country where numerous foreigners undertake individual struggles with the surrounding reality and experience adventures, some funny, some moving. At the same time, the backdrop of the Japanese Archipelago is just a pretext, a context both obvious and nearly transparent. This appears to be a meaningful device that spares the reader empty discourse on “a land, where progress meets the tradition”. Thus we shall not meet in “Sleepless in Tokyo” any geishas nor samurais, we will not travel by Sinkansen nor conquer Mt Fuji. Instead, we are to discover the ordinary, but at the same time – the extraordinary, because Japan is persistently present around the book’s heroes, whether they choose to be fascinated by her or not. It is a silent presence, but all the more meaningful; one worth experiencing, if only to eventually agree – or disagree – with the author.
Arkadiusz Jablonski Ph.D., Dpt. of Japanese Studies,
Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan