Author:東野圭吾 （ひがしの けいご）
Reading level: Adult
My rating: 4 out of 5
I would put this in the magical-realism genre. It's realistic fiction but involves letters travelling through time. The Namiya general store (zakkaten) is run by an old man who answers the letters of people who write in asking for advice. He originally does this in response to a child's joke, when kids asked him things like "how can I get 100% on a test without studying or cheating?" he answers them seriously (I won't give away his answer to that particular question), but then he gets a reputation and people begin writing in with serious quandaries, like a boy whose parents are planning to run away in the night to escape debts they can't pay. The old man can't live forever but somehow the Namiya general store continues to operate as a place to get good advice. The novel is told via the stories of various advice-seekers and as the stories continue it turns out they are all connected in unexpected ways.
I told my Japanese coworker about this book and she told me she loves Higashino Keigo but hadn't heard of this book. I'm taking a break to read in English for a little while but want to check out his other books eventually.