This is a kind of minor masterpiece by the same author as Quicksand, Some Prefer Nettles, Seven Japanese Tales, and The Makiota Sisters. I have read two of his novels previously and a short book on writing as well.
This novel is very bizarre and wonderful in a lot of ways, not the least of which because it was published in 1928 and feels both more ancient and more modern than that date would indicate. It’s about a novelist named Mizuno who is publishing a serialized manuscript and needs to continue to do so to make money. He’s not particularly concerned with the quality of his work. He wakes up to a panic realizing that he accidentally used the real name of one of his peers in writing as the murder victim in a recently sent in serial. He doesn’t know for sure, but when he checks, he realizes it’s true. On the one hand this becomes a kind of novel about social standing, but it also becomes a murder mystery of sorts when that author is murdered.
The novel then becomes a kind noirish fiction, with a healthy dose of Kafka-lite horrors happening within and around the protagonist. He goes off on some bizarre adventures, hooks himself up with a severe German woman as a potential avenue of escape, and even almost causes a book publisher to commit suicide. The translation itself makes this book out to be so spare and bleak at times, but also weird and hilarious at other times.