“The title of Tomoyuki Hoshino’s new novel comes from a common hustle in Japan called the “me-me scam,” whereby a con artist calls an elderly person and only identifies himself by saying, “It’s me.” The victim, believing that they are talking to someone they know, is then swindled into sending money to the perpetrator, who claims to have gotten into financial difficulty. Scammers in Japan collectively extract $400 million every year from unsuspecting victims in this way.
ME begins with a similar scam, yet it transforms from a simple act of petty crime into an exploration of identity and individualism in a modern corporatized society. Hoshino, who writes both fiction and nonfiction, has won several major Japanese awards and had a number of his works translated into English. ME, first published in Japan in 2010, has now been translated as a result of winning the Kenzaburō Ōe Prize, named for the Nobel-winning Japanese author…”