Cult X

[Note: I read a short excerpt from this novel. The prose was not stellar, but I attribute that to the translation. It’s still worth a read.]

The magnum opus by Akutagawa Prize-winner Fuminori Nakamura, Cult X is a story that dives into the psychology of fringe religion, obsession, and social disaffection.

When Toru Narazaki’s girlfriend, Ryoko, disappears, he tries to track her down, despite the warnings of a private detective he’s hired to find her. Ryoko’s past is shrouded in mystery, but the one concrete clue to her whereabouts is a previous address where she lived: in a compound in the heart of Tokyo, with a group that seems to be a cult led by a charismatic guru with a revisionist Buddhist scheme of life, death, and society. Narazaki plunges into the secretive world of the cult, ready to expose himself to any of the guru’s brainwashing tactics if it means he can learn the truth about Ryoko. But the cult isn’t what he expected, and he has no idea of the bubbling violence beneath its surface.

Inspired by the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, Cult X is an exploration of what draws individuals into extremism. This multi-faceted novel is nothing less than a tour de force, capturing the connections between astrophysics, neuroscience, and religion. It is an invective against predatory corporate consumerism and exploitative geopolitics, and it is a love story about compassion in the face of nihilism. (less)

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