The Box Man


Author: Kobo Abe

I can’t recall why I first picked up this book. Perhaps it was the writer’s name, or perhaps it was the idea of the box men as a cultural oddity, but I have forever been glad that I did.

Kobo Abe tells the story of a man who becomes obsessed with the Box Men he has seen in the park. The homeless Japanese who transform discarded cardboard into simple, but very functional shelters. He sets out to investigate them but as he delves deeper inside the Box Man phenomenon, he has to admit to himself that he has inadvertently become one of them.

I guarantee that once you read this book, if you ever visit Japan and see the Box Men, you’ll never look at their cardboard domiciles (which often line underpasses and abandoned spaces) in the same way again. Rather than passing them by, and ignoring their unassuming but well-kept and tidy facades, you might see them in a whole new light, marvelling at the care and respect that goes into the creation and maintenance of their cardboard homes. Perhaps you might even spare a thought for the people who live inside them. The Box Men of Japan.

Read this if you like: Japanese writers, oddities, underground cultures.

Rated: 3 scoops out of a possible 5 flavours.