Sacrifice
Author: Fumie Kondo
Specifications: ISBN  978-4101312613
290 pages
10.6 x 15.0 cm / 4.2 x 6.0 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Shinchosha Publishing Co., Ltd.
Tokyo, 2007
www.shinchosha.co.jp/
Awards: Haruhiko Oyabu Award, 2008
Buy now: amazon.co.jp

Synopsis

Positing the bicycle as "the world's most elegant and efficient conveyance," this novel centers on the sport of bicycle racing à la Tour de France. Protagonist and narrator Chikau Shiraishi is 23. Upon graduating from college the previous year, he joined a professional racing team. A strong climber, his role is to assist the team's lead rider, 33-year-old Ishio. The early action is set at the Tour de Japon, a five-stage race that takes place in mid-May, partly in the foothills of Mount Fuji. The team directs Shiraishi to set the pace in the third stage, and he has his moment in the spotlight when he ends up winning the stage and taking the overall lead. For the remaining stages he focuses on assisting Ishio; as a result he does not win the overall race but does receive overtures from a Spanish team afterwards. As events develop, suspicion arises that Ishio may have deliberately eliminated a rising young teammate in a race three years earlier by faking an accident because he felt his leadership of the team was threatened. Another intrigue is Shiraishi's own growth as a competitive cyclist: once a mid-distance runner with Olympic hopes, he had switched to cycling after a girlfriend broke his heart. Unable to reclaim his competitive hunger, he had settled comfortably into his supporting role until now. But later in the year, Ishio is killed in an accident during a road race in Europe . . .

Interwoven with the thrills of bicycle racing and an element of mystery, this tale of youthful angst and awakening makes for a highly satisfying read. The novel-length Eden (Eden; 2010) and the story collection Savaivu (Survive; 2011) are de facto sequels.