Editor Sean McDonald on Our Latest Subscriber Exclusive
We’re rewarding subscribers with an advance edition of Richard Lloyd Parry’s People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished From the Streets of Tokyo—And The Evil That Swallowed Her Up. If you haven’t yet joined, there may still be time to sign up and receive your own copy ahead of its June publication. But note that when they’re gone, they’re gone. (Also note this offer is only available in the United States.)
Sean McDonald, the book’s editor, is the executive editor and director of paperback publishing at FSG.
Two of my favorite books are In Cold Blood and The Executioner’s Song. My favorite city on the planet—after New York, I suppose—is Tokyo. So, for me, the set-up of People Who Eat Darkness is as alluring as they get: A young woman named Lucie Blackman moves to Tokyo, where she stands out like, well, like a tall, blonde, 21-year-old in Japan. And then she disappears. Her friend receives a mysterious message saying Lucie has joined a religious cult, but no one believes that. The Japanese police seem helpless and hopeless. Lucie’s family comes to Japan, hires a series of investigators, digs into leads on their own that take them into the craziest, darkest corners of Tokyo’s subcultures.
And this is only the beginning of the story.
Richard Lloyd Parry has been reporting from Tokyo for over fifteen years, and now runs the Asia bureau for the London Times. He understands Tokyo as well as anyone, and explains it to the outside world with not just practiced fluidity but with elegance and unusual insight. He has seen a lot, but the case of Lucie Blackman grabbed him with unusual force. He’s covered the story from the beginning. He became close to her family and friends, won the trust of the police detectives. He covered the trial—which confounded the Japanese legal system and it’s 99.8% conviction rate, achieved largely on the expectation that every defendant will ultimately confess, but not this one, whom the judge would describe as “unprecedented and extremely evil”—from beginning to end, gained access to documents and inner workings no journalist was ever meant to see. He covered the case so closely that the defendant ultimately filed a bizarre lawsuit to try to stop Lloyd Parry from writing about him.
Everyone who you’d want to testify that this is a brilliant and gripping book has done so. When it was published in London, The Economist, The Guardian, The Telegraph, and others declared it one of the best books of 2011. Old Tokyo hands like David Peace and Jake Adelstein have celebrated Lloyd Parry’s knowledge of Tokyo and how well and how far he guides us into a culture that guards itself thoroughly; bestselling crime writers like Mo Hayder and Minette Walters have talked about how suspenseful and chilling it is. Geoff Dyer has said how compelling it is. Chris Cleave has called it, yes, “In Cold Blood for our times.” So does Esquire, which compares it favorably to Executioner’s Song for good measure. So you don’t have to just trust me that this book is good, that this book is satisfying, full of surprises I haven’t even hinted at. I’ve blathered on all this time and I haven’t even told you what happened to Lucie. For that, at the very least, you should read the book. And we’re trying to make it as easy as possible for you—simply subscribe and we’ll follow up with an email on where we can send your copy; the first 500 will get one for free.