“The Outsider” set in the chaos of post war Japan, a country still in the throes’ of recuperating from the bombing of 46 cities and the momentous influx of returned Japanese from Manchuria and other colonies, sheds light on this dramatic time. The book vividly describes the political turmoil between the Japanese right and left and the impact of the American occupation on a nation as it comes to grips with its own anguish and confusion. This time of uncertainty goes a long way to providing an understanding modern Japan’s determination to be number one.
Sarah, a European child, is thrown into the fray through her contacts with Japanese playmates and her parent’s business associates. She identifies with her Japanese friends and is determined to become part of their world. Sarah’s quest to find herself takes her deeply into all aspects of Japanese life. Again and again she leaves her comfortable expat world to share play and trials with her friends. These naïve relationships bring her into contact with the larger world of the Japanese black market, protest movements, and the world of thugs and day laborers. It also informs the reader about the strong links and legacy between pre and post war Japan. In short, as Sarah discovers her limits and desires, the reader learns about Japan and its journey.