Hiromi Kawakami writes the sort of novels you can love for their atmosphere alone. Her characters lead attractively unelaborate lives and are united in their attitude of equable epicureanism ...That’s the distinctive Kawakami atmosphere. It’s the reason for her cult following ...The Ten Loves of Mr Nishino, will satisfy aficionados ... Pinned down on the page of a newspaper, The Ten Loves of Mr Nishino risks sounding creepy. This slight book’s beguiling and beautiful mystery is best left for readers to discover by themselves.
The novel’s chapters, each recounting a brief dalliance, provide a tantalizingly incomplete mosaic of this elusive Casanova, from his lusty school days to his sad final years seducing housewives ... He’s the Don Draper of Japanese fiction, the sort of person everyone knows without ever really knowing ... The Freudian explanation is anticlimactic, not least because it rings false—people are greater than the sum of their childhood traumas, after all. As with Nishino himself, it’s mystery that makes Ms. Kawakami’s book so enticing.
If ostensibly always about Nishino, this is, of course, also very much the women's book -- their stories, and their lives, in which Nishino happened to play a(n often significant (and memorable) -- but very temporary) role. Here, too, we only see slivers of their lives, rather than full pictures, but Kawakami's rich, varied cast does make for intriguing glimpses of these different lives, and ultimately an impressive panoramic view of contemporary Japanese women's lives. Leaving aside a few odd touches...The Ten Loves of Nishinois a neat little semi-ronde of a novel, quite well balanced between the man at its center and the women here who reveal themselves, and him, in their various portrait-reminiscences