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Not to be confused with another famous Japanese novelist who has the same surname, Ryu Murakami is known for being an overtly political, even subversive, writer. “From the Fatherland, With Love,” his latest novel to be translated into English, cements that reputation. Taking place in an alternate world in 2011, the plot centers on a North Korean invasion of Japan.

Our first reaction upon hearing this premise may be to roll our eyes, expecting a demonizing depiction of an enemy nation — the sort right-wing pundits might quote to kindle fear and militaristic sentiments. But those familiar with Murakami’s writing know he isn’t one to indulge in blatant fear-mongering. On the contrary, if this novel criticizes anyone, it is none other than Japan.

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