(pb; 1993, 2007: translated by Michael Volek & Mitsuko Votek)
From the back cover:
"The Shitos: eight people, four generations, one household, with young newlywed Noriko joining the clan to make nine. Her husband Kazuhito adores her to distraction and her in-laws seem to be the most good-natured people imaginable. the family owns a thriving business and lives on a sprawling estate in the suburbs of Tokyo where they've created a floral paradise. Once a series of strange events and inconsistencies trigger Noriko's suspicions, however, reality becomes inseparable from her own dark imaginings."
Okay read from a potentially-great writer.
Now You're One Of Us flows better than Nonami's translation-stilted The Hunter. Nonami is in her element here, with strong characters and a pace (for the most part) that wastes no time establishing the initially low-key creepiness necessary for this kind of novel.
Now You're One Of Us is predictable.
Anyone who's read Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby, or seen the resulting film, will spot the lame end-"twist" early on. In this day and age, at least in the United States, that twist is Clichéd, with a capital "C".
While reading Now, I kept hoping that Nonami was playing the clichéd set-up to spring some mind-f*ck/paradigm-shift on the reader. Sadly, this is not the case.
Another deal-killer on this 239-page novel is that it's seventy-five to a hundred pages too long. The last quarter of Now would've been fine if the storyline wasn't so predictable: yes, folks, another case of style over increasingly-thin substance.
Also, in order to support the flagging storyline, Now's characters start acting dumb, really dumb. Not 'cinematic-teenagers-in-a-haunted-house' dumb, but close.
With a less common set-up, and a lot of end-section trimming, this novel-that-should've-been-a-novella is disappointing, at best.
As far as I know of, The Hunter and Now You're One Of Us are the only Nonami English-translated novels available stateside. I hope more come this way soon, because I'd like to read a nailed-it work by this potentially-wondrous author.