Book review: 『運転者』by Yasushi Kitagawa

運転者 (うんてんしゃ)
Title: 運転者 (うんてんしゃ)
First published: 2019
Published: 2019
Format: Soft cover
Page Count: 239


Yasushi Kitagawa is a popular writer of fiction. His works are translated in several Asian countries and all his books have amazing reviews on Amazon. He also has a beautiful website that includes a blog updated every day and even an online shop where you can buy Kitagawa coffee…


『運転者』 is a light philosophical book that is likely to help you change your perception of life.

Our protagonist, Shuichi, works for an assurance company, a stressful job where the number of sales determines next month’s salary. With his aging mother living alone and his daughter refusing to go to school, Shuichi is on the verge of a breakdown when he meets a mysterious taxi driver.

I loved the book right from the beginning, because I liked the protagonist and found it easy to identify with him. However, 『運転者』 is not as much a great fictional story as a philosophical reflection on our life and how much our attitude alone can change things. This is the kind of book that people read because the message it contains will have an impact on their own life rather than to be engrossed in a fictional story.

To be honest, I am certainly not the best public for this kind of book. At first, I loved the story, but at times, I found the book looked more like a self-help book than a work of fiction. The reader can take everything that the taxi driver tells Shuichi as life advice, but personally, instead of having things told to me by a character, I prefer have them implied by the story itself.

The taxi driver’s life lessons are certainly the reason why so many readers loved this book. And I loved it too, even though I sometimes found some discussions a little long, and at some point even a little moralising. Overall, I found that reading this book is likely to give you courage during difficult times in your life, it can help you change things, or on the contrary, give you enough energy to go on with what you are doing. In any case, the book teaches you precious things. To be honest, I personally do not completely agree nor embrace the vision of life described in 『運転者』, but I think that I am the exception here, and that most people will find this book very useful and motivating.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. It is a short novel, it is easy to read, I had sympathy for the protagonist and though I remained a little sceptical regarding the core of its message, I would easily recommend it to anyone who feels disheartened and stressed out.