a hit by the Goodreads rec algorithm, which told me to read Fire on the Deep (yes), Old Man's War (no), and then this (definitely yes). Trevanian is a snob and obsessively masochistically anti-American and pro-Japanese, but his clever "meta-novel" as the wikipedia description goes, "deconstructs" the spy novel. but that might be a little strong...
anyway brilliant description, a keen eye for what goes on in cross-cultural meetings (absolute brilliance: three basque peasants chit-chat about an american tourist girl, concluding she must be a sex worker, and then when the conversation begins in french, it's all bon jour and peaches and pie hahahah).<-- this is brilliant because that's exactly how it works, so to speak, between small linguistic groups and 'the West'<-- i have eavesdropped on tourists and natives in a number of countries, and can report that something similar often happens (!)
only a third of the way through and already confident about the five stars... alas that the book is a full $12 online T.T wahhhhh
11 January 2012-- continuing
okay finished! my first GR review that I wrote in two parts. maybe I should have waited, in order to open the review brilliantly. i could have made this clever and unified but instead.. here goes:
post reading:'Shibumi' is an instant classic, a thriller and a "deconstruction" of a thriller, a mixup of Crichton (who comes later) and Le Carre and Ian Fleming and Ludlum and maybe a little Grisham (again, a later author). it's an "airport novel" but also a nested story and breakdown of cultural interactions.
well-informed about Japanese values and with breathable Japanese characters yet avoiding total fan-boy anime convention cartoonization of the country. exciting scene-by-scene development fairly-tight mixed with commentary on terrorist motivations and caving the sport.
Trevanian's only failure was to understand himself. he attacks the US, but Nicholas Hel (his authorial standin/fantasy other-self) is clearly American in outlook!