Abe's first novel in eight years--a gruff fantasy From a writer no stranger to the metaphorically weird (The Woman in the Dunes. The Box Man). Mole, the narrator, is an obese man living alone in an abandoned stone quarry that he's retrofitted into a cavernous bomb-shelter should nuclear disaster ever visit. He lives there permanently, but ventures forth on occasion to check out possible fellow survivors, people he'd possibly invite into his "ark" for the surviving haul. He's never found anyone just right; but as the book begins, he's taken in by a man selling legless dung beatles--eupcaccia--and by a pair of shills, a man and a woman, working with the insect dealer. So intrigued with the bugs, dealer, and shills is Mole that he half-offers them "tickets" to his "ship"--which, by misadventure, they surprise him by accepting. The four of them go underground, with Mole hardly secure about his trio of guests--who are happy, though, to be surviving possible Armageddon, But when Armageddon does come it's a fake, involving an absurdist-comedy toilet bowl, a stuck leg, some dynamite, a brigade of senior-citizen neat-freaks--it all becomes very loony. And either the translation is poor or Abe's style has turned flintier than ever: dialogue (which makes up much of the book) reads like that of Japanese dubbed cartoons: "Well, I still think it's worth investigating. If we look around, we might even find some wet footprints." "Nah, that ladder is too risky. It's not worth it." "You're the one who started this." "I told you--it was an excuse." Coarse, broad, almost funny--an oddly inert, completely balance-less book.