It’s Me, It’s Me

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It’s Me, It’s Me
Author: Tomoyuki Hoshino
Specifications: ISBN  978-4104372034
251 pages
13.8 x 19.4 cm / 5.5 x 7.8 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Shinchosha Publishing Co., Ltd.
Tokyo, 2010
Awards: Kenzaburo Oe Prize, 2011
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This novel centers on the "It's me" telephone scam, targeting especially the elderly, that has escalated in Japan since the year 2000. In a typical case the caller identifies himself only by saying "Hey, it's me," and goes on to claim in great distress that he's been in an accident or lost some funds he was entrusted with at work, etc., and needs money wired to his account right away.

The first "It's me" con of the story is Hitoshi Nagano, 30, who works in the camera department of a volume-sales electrical appliance store. One day when he is eating at McDonalds, a man about his own age named Daiki Hiyama inadvertently sets his cell phone down on Hitoshi's tray, and Hitoshi makes off with it. On a whim, he uses it to call Daiki's mother, pretending he is Daiki, and he gets her to wire 900,000 yen (about US$9,000) to his account. Three days later, Hitoshi returns home from work to discover Daiki's mother there in his apartment, expecting him as though he were Daiki and seeming to truly believe that he is her son. Thinking this very odd, Hitoshi decides to visit his parents, whom he has not seen in two years, and finds a man who works for city hall living with them as their son; his own mother treats him as a stranger. The man doesn't look like him in the least, and he's clearly the wrong age, but Hitoshi quickly realizes that he is another "It's me" scammer like himself. At a loss for what else to do, Hitoshi begins living as Daiki, and no one seems to bat an eye. Yet another "It's me" scammer soon enters the story?a college student named Nao. The three men get on very well with each
other?they are all "me," after all?meeting frequently at Nao's apartment and becoming increasingly interdependent. As time passes, the me's about town multiply, and women come to join their ranks as well . . .

In this brilliant probing of self and identity, author Tomoyuki Hoshino elevates what might have been a commonplace crime story to an occasion for philosophical reflection, delivering an essential read for contemplating the state of Japanese society today.