Review: The Factory by Paddy O'Reilly

Hilda is an Australian girl, incarcerated in a Japanese prison as she has been accused of murder. Bit by bit, she writes out her story--that of a university student who went to Japan to research the Koba, a mysterious, performing arts group (one that seems more like a cult than a theatre group,) who disbanded many years before when they were seemingly at their peak. Through her research (which includes a stay with the "new" Koba,) Hilda finds herself caught up in a web of complex stories, people and lies, and her research may come at a huge cost ...

I enjoyed reading this unusual story of an Australian girl in a strange place, trying make sense of something that is, ultimately, difficult to comprehend and, perhaps, none of her business. Hilda's obsession with the Koba is both intriguing and tragic. The author has much to say about Japanese people and culture, and their relationship through both Hilda and her ratbag companion, Eloise. The final revelation at the end of the novel is fitting, though one can only ponder at Hilda's future. Will she get that transfer to an Australian prison and be able to leave Japan and the Koba behind her for good? And does it ever truly end well when foreigners try to investigate the goings on of a country that they can never truly understand?



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