Tom Hurley is a bored diplomat. He's assigned to the case but he seems lazy and unambitious, more interested in his daily swims and his affair with the wife of a C.I.A. officer.
The Japanese police officer assigned to help with the search is Kenzo Otto. He's a self conscious person who is also preoccupied. He's bothered by the noise in his apartment, by his landlord, and looked down upon by his peers. He bungles his way from place to place as he attempts a half hearted investigation.
We follow Lisa's steps as she arrives in Tokyo. She seems to want to continue her dissertation there and when the promise of a teaching job falls through, she searches for other work, eventually getting a job as a hostess in a club.
Lisa is half Japanese and helf-African American. Besides wanting to study bar girls as part of her thesis, she also is in search for her family history.
The country of origin of the book's title seems to indicate that Lisa is not of any one race. With being half-Asian American and half-African American she seems to feel not part of any race and has no place to belong.
The novel seemed more a study of Lisa's attempts to fit in and her mistakes with the Japanese traditions and the view the Japanese men have toward woman and in particular with women of mixed race.
This novel won the American Book Award and the Edgar Award. http://www.amazon.com/review/R1W36UUQ1CAVT2/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm