Now available on Amazon as an ebook ($3.99) or paperback ($14.99): Criminals on Amazon
Straight or gay? Bi? Trans? Male or female? Some are certain about themselves. Others are less so.
In Criminals, a novel set in big, beautifully unstoppable Tokyo, American Conner is gay, twenty-five-ish and hung up on the bar-owning ex-boyfriend, Arata, who dumped him. Wanting to fix a desperate mess he created for Arata, Conner turns to crime, and to sleeping with a woman—a first. And he likes it, making him wonder about his identity. Marika, a Japanese woman on the lam, is likewise author to a mess—she married a man she didn’t love—but her fix is tricky in a different way, since her husband doesn’t want to let her go. As Conner tramps across the world of foreign travelers and fortune-seekers (and Japanese of the same restless bent), Marika jumps between houses and jobs evading the loving husband sniffing out her trail. When things go south for them both, they become reluctant allies and find that redemption can come from the most unlikely of places.
And now Criminals is available from Mumblers Press LLC as an e-book and paperback via Amazon and distributed as a paperback by Ingram. In October 2021, it earned a starred review from Kirkus Reviews, which called it “An entertaining crime yarn full of sly humor and unexpected uplift.”
I lived in Japan for four years. Although I have written non-fiction about the bilingual brain, I have never written memoir or fiction set in Japan or about life as a foreigner in Japan and Taiwan. This book is the exception. Begun as a lark, it became my way of emotionally journeying through the world I encountered while tramping through the internal territory I explored in my early adulthood. It’s funny how real a story can feel to you, even knowing that none of it actually happened.
Despite the fantastical, near-thriller elements of Criminals, the story does recount a certain experience of Tokyo, a city in which there is always something happening, calling to Japanese and foreigners alike. I went through title after title for it, most using the word “Tokyo,” since the city is crucial to the book. During a recent stint at the Department of Justice working in criminal enforcement (a description that, while technically true, is misleading in a way that I enjoy), I tumbled to the fact that nearly everyone in the book is a criminal. They are criminals, and this is their book. Once I had that title—Criminals—I couldn’t shake it. And perhaps that’s where the book had always been heading, unbeknownst to me, because when something as basic as your sexual nature has been criminalized, you either have to accept yourself as an outlaw or accept that all laws can be questioned.