A man wakes up in a hospital with one word in his head: Sapporo. He dimly recalls this as the place where he was raised, and it becomes his name and identity. Like an immigrant without language or memory he relies on his young son as guide and interpreter, but soon drifts away into what some might see as madness.
In Sapporo’s floating world, he is also Prospero, summoning the ancestors and channeling the lost dreams that gave way to the modern industrial era.
His son, meanwhile, has escaped to the city’s underworld. His laconic account of the anarchic, callous, tender tribe of street kids is beyond the scope of any realist fiction, yet compelling as a documentary and fiercely poetic.
Parallel to these worlds, and destined to reconnect them, is a young woman’s journey through what is indeed the Third World – as surreal in its poverty and shifting realities as anything in Sapporo’s visions or his son’s predations.
The Beautiful Children is a triumph of language and structure; it is also a haunting, and haunted, elegy upon innocence.