Author: Ryō Asai
Specifications: ISBN  978-4103330615
286 pages
13.8 x 19.1 cm / 5.5 x 7.6 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Shinchosha Publishing Co., Ltd.
Tokyo, 2012
Awards: Naoki Prize, 2012
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In Japan, the prime recruitment season for university students seeking career-status jobs after graduation runs from late in the students' junior year into the summer of their senior year. In recent times, the sluggish economy together with a reduced proportion of regular hires has made the job hunt increasingly competitive. This novel portrays the lives of five university students?three men and two women?from the time this "battle" commences in December until a little more than half a year later. All five attend the same university in Tokyo. Narrator Takuto Ninomiya was involved with a student theater group, and planned with a friend to start up a small company of their own after graduation, but gave up on theater after they had a falling out. He misses the activity, though, and is always wondering what his former friend, who remains involved with the stage, is up to. His roommate, Kotaro Kamiya, comes off as an all-around smooth operator, but he also has a compulsive side: he has decided to focus solely on publishing jobs in an effort to find the object of his unrequited love in high school. Mizuki Tanabe, who was Kamiya's girlfriend until he dumped her, feels a particularly strong need to land a regular position so she can support her mother, who has become mentally unhinged by her husband's cheating. They all comb through their barely more than two decades of life for anything they can point to by way of experience and strengths?studying overseas, volunteer activities, etc.?doing their best to distinguish and sell themselves, but it is discouraging to have no way of knowing how they came up short when they fail to get past an interview. Ninomiya is still looking for his first offer when Tanabe and Kamiya garner theirs in quick succession. The five students thought they were all in this together, cheering each other along, but then . . .

The story insightfully probes the cruel realities of relationships among today's young people, for whom the advent of Twitter and other communication tools oftentimes makes it difficult to distinguish between honest sentiments and false fronts.