24 November 2010
Commercial upmarket fiction
Rights handled by New River:
Foreign rights excl. Asia
China (New Star Press)
by Jun Ikeido
Winner of the 145th (2011) Naoki Prize
Kohei Tsukuda is a rocket scientist, who falls from grace following the failure of a test launch. Defeated, he inherits his family's small business, Tsukuda Manufacturing. Over the years, with the support of his team, he slowly builds Tsukuda into a manufacturer of patented, high-quality engine components. Yet, this success attracts an envious rival, who stages a patent infringement complaint, with the plan of acquiring Tsukuda. Meanwhile, Tsukuda's top-class valve system catches the attention of a leading rocket manufacturing company, Imperial Heavy. Imperial offer to acquire the patent rights, which could not only bring Tsukuda out of financial difficulties but also improve their employees' benefits. Yet, against the will of his team, Kohei turns down Imperial's lucrative offer, and proposes instead to become their supplier. Will his gamble pay off? Will his small company eventually prevail against all these odds?
Written in a straightforward manner, Downtown Rocket is a compelling tale that offers a glimpse into different aspects of the Japanese society. The reader has the simple pleasure of following a mangaesque hero along his journey to his rocket making dream against the 'beasts and monsters' as if in a computer game. On the other hand, Kohei Tsukuda's belief in small business, in staying small, local, and maintaining high quality, represents a quest for 'the Japanese Dream' in an age of problematic globalisation and agglomeration.
About the author
A former banker, Jun Ikeido is most famous for his bestselling business novels. The Downtown Rocket series and the Hanzawa Naoki series have sold millions of copies in Japan, and have been adapted into Japan's most viewed TV dramas. In 2011, Downtown Rocket, the first title of the series, won the prestigious Naoki Prize.