Battle Royale (1999) by Koushun Takami
Publisher: Orion Publishing
Koushun Takami’s notorious high-octane thriller is based on an irresistible premise: a class of junior high school students is taken to a deserted island where, as part of a ruthless authoritarian program, they are provided with weapons and forced to kill one another until only one survivor is left standing.
Criticised as violent exploitation when first published in Japan – where it then proceeded to become a runaway bestseller – Battle Royale is Lord of the Flies for the 21st century, a potent allegory of what it means to be young and (barely) alive in a dog-eat-dog world. Made into a controversial hit movie of the same name, Battle Royale is already a contemporary Japanese pulp classic, now available for the first time in the UK.