Publishing director Angus Cargill sets All of Us Strangers, starring Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal, in the context of the original story, Taichi Yamada’s Strangers.

In 2004, I did a work placement in New York, at Farrar, Strous and Giroux. While there I read Strangers, Taichi Yamada’s 1987 Japanese novel, translated by Wayne P. Lammers, which was about to be published there by Vertical. The slim, barely 200-page novel was based around a brilliant conceit in which Harada, a lonely divorcee living in an eerie apartment block, seems to slip into a reality in which his long-dead parents are alive, around the same age he is now. While also embarking on a new relationship with Kei, a neighbour in his building, he takes solace in returning to visit his parents at his childhood home, before realising that doing so may be seriously damaging his health.

Two editions of Strangers


Back in London, I was lucky enough to buy the UK rights to the translation, my first acquisition as an editor, and the book went on to do nicely, its set-up hooking readers and fans and, crucially at the time, gaining strong support from Waterstones. Already made into a Japanese film, the English-language film rights were quickly optioned and for many years there was excited talk about an adaptation, with various writers and possible directors rumoured to be attached. As so often, nothing seemed to come of it, until the book finally landed with the English director Andrew Haigh (Weekend, 45 Years, Lean on Pete) and in early 2023 it was announced that the film was being made, with Andrew Scott, Paul Mescal, Claire Foy and Jamie Bell starring.


Relocated to England, the resulting film, All of Us Strangers, is very much an adaptation – a re-casting of the novel, with Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal’s burgeoning relationship taking the place of Harada and Kei’s in the novel. Even ahead of its release, word of mouth was building because of its intensity, emotional punch and the strength of its four leads (unusually, practically the only actors in the film). Since then, it has had stunning reviews and box-office success. While it was overlooked by the Oscars, it’s won and been nominated for many other awards, including six nominations for this year’s BAFTAs.

Watching the film myself, late last year, was really moving – it is such a memorable and powerful film, which both honours and goes beyond its source material, and I would strongly recommend seeing it on the big screen, surely the best place for such an intense, spell-like story to work. The final lines of copy for the original UK edition describe the novel as ‘a beautiful and moving story about memory, loss and the striving for human contact’, which would also work, for me, as a perfect summary of Andrew Haigh’s beautiful adaptation.

All of Us Strangers is in cinemas now. Strangers by Taichi Yamada is available in paperback, ebook and audiobook.
Watch the trailer

Watch the trailer for Andrew Haigh’s All of Us Strangers (Searchlight).

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Taichi Yamada

‘A cerebral and haunting ghost story … Highly recommended.’ David Mitchell