Member Reviews

"Set My Heart on Fire" is a captivating exploration of Japanese pop culture. This book presents a commendable philosophical constitution. Reading this novel has given me a refreshing departure from the premises I'm usually accustomed to. One of the standout features of this book is its exceptionally dynamic tempo, mirroring the vibrant and fast-paced nature of the pop culture it portrays. The emotional spectrum covered in this novel is broad and impactful. "Set My Heart on Fire" is quite brilliantly composed.


Thank you, NetGalley and Verso Books for the ARC.

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Thank you to @netgalley and @versobooks for this #arc, #setmyheartonfire by #IzumiSuzuki translated by #helenohoran

Firstly I need to set a little context. I am a big Suzuki fan, I waited and waited for her first short story collection to come out and absolutely loved them. I read the second collection and enjoyed them too. Her life is fascinating if a little sad and depressing too.

Initially I wrongly assumed this was book 3 of Suzuki's short stories as I understood that, that was the plan for her collection. This is in fact her debut novel, and I am really pleased to be able to read her writing in a longer and more detailed format.

The novel draws from an era, music and scene that I have no knowledge or understanding of if I am honest, I think for someone who knows rock and roll, the blues and the 70s you will really appreciate all the references that I will have missed. On a purely writing review, Suzuki never ceases to impress, some of the passages are just beautiful and so well written. The book flows or jumps from period to period so it can feel a little disconnected but once you have read the book it doesn't feel like that.

I am unsure how to summarise the story itself, it is about a female lead, based no doubt in part on our lovely author, love, music and life events. I found the focus on these life events and decisions quite hard hitting in some respects and again they were written brilliantly.

I would add trigger warnings about domestic abuse and substance misuse, if you need further info drop me a message.

This read like a historic fiction which it has been sold as, so if you like that genre and want a very real insight via fiction this is the book for you. If you generally enjoy excellent writing and profound narration of some really complex life events, definitely add this to your list too. I suggest if you have read either or both short story collections you need to read this to compare and contrast.

Overall I enjoyed this novel and cannot wait to read anything #IzumiSuzuki has released!

#honnomushi100 #reading #japanesefiction #translatedfiction #translatedjapaneseliterature #booksfromjapan #translatedjapanesefiction #japaneseliterature

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1970s Tokyo music scene where everyone drinks, takes drugs and sleeps with each other. We travel through this world with Izumi, a girl with no real personality who spends large chunks of her time on drugs and sleeps with anyone she fancies. She’s not fussed by nicking a friend’s boyfriend or being the one who persuaded a family guy to cheat on his wife. Very few of the characters have any redeeming qualities - it seems that they all hate themselves and are using the drugs/sex as a way of dulling the pain.

Not an enjoyable or engrossing read. There are some explicit sex scenes. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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Thank you so much Verso for letting me read an ARC of this. I absolutely adored the book and will be posting a more thorough video review on my Instagram page later tonight. If at all possible, I would love to receive a physical arc of this because it's one of my favorite reads all year and waiting until November seems so far away!

I've already shared my impressions with some close bookish friends of mine and I got them interested in the book too, it's a really phenomenal piece of art and I can't wait to read more by Suzuki in the very near future. Thanks again!

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I love Izumi Suzuki. I've read all of her books translated into English and this one didn't disappoint. Her writing style is so unique and captivating that I can't help but recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good book. I love that it is focused on the underground music scene of 70's Japan and the people that were apart of it. The book is raw and gritty but also lyrical and elegant with the way Suzuki writes her novels. She is a true gem of a writer

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a musical novel following the rock scene in japan in the 1970’s

maybe i’m biased as i love the two topics but i really loved how the author portrays how youth are in the rock scene.

this book perfectly embodies how manipulative rockstars can be to younger women.

as someone who’s dealt with some of the topics ( eating disorders, SA) the book was incredibly hard to read at times.

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The Japanese underground music scene in the 70's is rife with drugs, alcohol, sex and plenty of musicians trying to be something. We are taken into this world by Izumi, a young woman in her early 20's, who takes drugs and is free with her body. As we journey with Izumi, she works her way through a series of personal situations where she ruminates on what is real love, what is friendship, and who has power in relationships.
Izumi is one of the most complex characters, I have met on the page. At times she is a blank canvas that men can paint to suit their wants and needs. At other times, she is manipulative, forthright and plain nasty. Her thinking at times is warped, as she concludes that she will not do drugs but will need plenty of sexual partners to offset the cravings, “The meds would kill me before long. Each night I gave myself up to those white pills. Or into the arms of a man. I just wanted to be held by something. Taken in. I couldn’t tell what pleasure was anymore.” What Izumi knows for certain is that she does not know what love is, though she desires it, she has no clue how to obtain it. There are other moments through out the book where she ruminates on topics and how they intertwine, like beauty and happiness.
The people who circle through Izumi's world are a wonderful collection of diverse characters. Her friend Etsuko is a music journalist, and their relationship, well it is interesting. There is jealousy, respect, betrayal, regret, and their interactions towards the end are poignant.
There is an array of men who also come into Izumi’s life but the three who have the most influence being Foo, Joel and Jun. Each bring out a different aspect of who Izumi is, highlighting both the good and bad as there is misunderstandings, dependency, exploitation, admiration and promise.
Each chapter is named after a song and is a vignette. It is a clever way to bring forth Izumi’s story. It really does make you feel that as the reader, you are standing next to her as she goes on the journey. You gather a sense of Izumi’s despair through descriptions such as “Scatterings of neon lights softly stained the rich dark. It was the same night. The same night several times, all overlapping at once.” For she has entered a cycle where everything she does is on repeat. Izumi has almost no care for the future and just lives in the moment.
This is my first foray into the works of Izumi Suzuki, and I was not prepared for such a groundbreaking, powerful and compelling story. When you realise that this novel was first released in the early 1980s, Suzuki's representations of domestic violence are accurate, sensitive but brutal. As I started, I was not expecting to be taken in the direction that evolved. I was assuming this to be a young woman’s journey through the seedy underground Japanese music scene as a groupie, but it is so much more than that. Suzuki has captured and exposed a moment in time which many of us where completely unaware of. It is a powerful, and at times, uncomfortable insight but wholly realised.
Thanks to Netgalley and Verso Books for the ARC.

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I got through four chapters...or really they are short stories...mainly conversations or first person rants. But to be honest I was speed reading and not drawn in to the Tokyo buzz of the 1970s.
Maybe I am just to old???? Sorry.
Thanks to NetGalley and Izumi Suzuki for the chance to explore

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**trigger warning: drug abuse, rape, mental health**

I really wish I loved this more. I read Suzuki's sf/fantasy short story collection and quite enjoyed it, and while her distinctive voice is still present in this novel, it is bogged down by some quite dark and triggering material. The main character, Izumi, is a 23 year old living in 70s Tokyo. She is beautiful and lives out her hedonistic youth embedded in the Japanese rock music scene. She sleeps around with rock stars, but becomes bored of them quickly: her one true love is the music and legacy that musicians create.

I was enjoying the first 25%: Izumi's attitude towards life was interesting and I liked her friendship with Etsuko. However, even for a short (192 page) book, the plot was wearing thin around the 50% mark. This pacing confused me as to if the book is semi-autobiographical or all fiction. Then Jun arrives, and Izumi's narrative takes an incredibly sad and extremely triggering turn. I know the author struggled with mental illness and took her own life at a young age, but some of the passages about mental health and especially sexual assault were so gratuitously dark that I couldn't read some of them. Unfortunately this book was not for me, and I don't think I could recommend this book to anyone unless they were a previous fan of Suzuki's work.

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