Caveat lector: Some of the explicit sex scenes in Fuminori Nakamura's new novel Cult X will disturb you. Whether that's because they embarrass you or turn you on or both is very much beside the point ... A doomsday cult called Aum Shinrikyo, led by a man named Shoko Asahara, planned and carried out the fatal attacks — in large part to prevent police investigations into their inner workings. No spoilers here as to what happened afterwards, especially as Nakamura imagines it differently — and that's what makes Cult X worth reading ... you'll think about Nakamura's questions long after you've closed his book's covers. He uses the conventions of a genre to prop up a tent for big ideas about groupthink and individual responsibility. If you feel a few frissons along the way? Consider how easily you might be seduced into a cult, and then take a long, cold shower.
...a hefty, sometimes lewd, sometimes metaphysical exploration of the meaning of life that is also a thriller about the terrorist conspiracies of a secretive, sex-obsessed religious group ... Cult X, translated into handsome, unadorned English by Kalau Almony, pushes the boundaries of the thriller genre to an extreme degree. Mr. Nakamura has written a daunting, challenging saga of good and evil on a Dostoevskian scale. Those who persevere to its finale may well feel the richer for it.
Taking as his inspiration the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, award-winning author Nakamura weaves together politics, religion, and science—including biology, cosmology, and quantum physics—into a fascinating noir brimming with insightful commentary on totalitarianism that is especially apt for our times.