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Haruki Murakami has said that 1995 was the year when many of Japan’s certainties were destroyed. In January of that year, the Great Hanshin Earthquake killed 6,434 people and then in March, local doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo released sarin gas in the Tokyo subway, killing 12 and injuring many others.

With the shadow of this pivotal year still looming, Kenzaburo Oe — who was no stranger to writing about anti-social groups and mob mentality — completed “Somersault” in 1999.

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