Wrong About Japan

Peter Carey

Read January 2006

Carey's son, Charley, is a fan of anime and manga, and convinces Carey to visit Japan. No museums or high-culture, his son makes him agree; this will be a tour to get at the heart of the popular arts. So far, fair enough. They are joined by Charley's Japanese friend (or acquaintance, or companion, or guide...we never really understand the relationship), Takashi; he always remains a somewhat shadowy figure, perhaps a device to illustrate Takashi's position in the author's own imagination. The threesome conduct a surreal tour of the culture. It's a trip highlighted by misunderstanding and stereotypes that prove wrong in which Carey simply can't fit into Japan. Carey tries to use his status as an author to probe deeper into these arts by meeting the people that make them, but he comes up empty. In the end, this isn't a book about Japan, anime, manga, or any of those things (despite the striking visuals); rather, it's a long and pained catharsis from a father to a son. In a strange way, it almost works in that respect.