A sensitive portrait of the man who has everything and nothing, from the pseudonymous prize-winning Japanese author Tsujii--a tale enriched by the insights gained from the writer's other career as founder and CEO of a giant conglomerate, which includes the Inter-Continental Hotel chain. Rereading Pascal's PensÃ‰es has only further reminded the middle-aged narrator, Junzo, of the, difficulty of resolving problems with the clarity ""one brings to bear on solving a geometrical problem."" Alienated from his colleagues, worried by his disintegrating family, Junzo is also aware of his own inadequacies, especially in his marriage, and his youthful attempts at left-wing rebellion that failed so humiliatingly. Founder and CEO of the Maruwa Department Stores, Junzo, divorced and without children, has been as successful a businessman as his despotic and womanizing father, a self-made man, who came from a small village to found a real-estate empire. As he deals with routine matters of business and pressing family problems, Junzo recalls the events and his own responses that have led him to feel that ""What was clear was that someone had to act as a core around whom everyone could gather. And it was also clear that in reality I neither wanted nor was able to be that core."" His divorced sister, Kumiko, who had moved to France to get away from the family, has been accused of tax fraud; his nephew, for whom he is responsible, is deeply troubled; his longtime lover has told him that she wants to end the affair because he's ""not any good at making a woman happy""; and though his business prospers, its success means little to him. All it provides is a reason to move away from the abyss and into the spring day that's ""waiting for me to walk through."" Frequently claustrophobic introspection--but relieved by fine writing and evocative details about corporate life that give a familiar theme a refreshing lift. A distinctive debut.