So Close to Life (Tan cerca de la vida)

What makes a human different from a robot? Production? Thought? Love?

When Max, a computer expert, arrives in Tokyo, he has a strange feeling. Perhaps it’s the jet lag. But, for a moment, it seems to him that everybody there –the taxi driver, the people, the bellhop in the hotel- have the exact same face: his. Like a thousand mirrors walking around the city.

Max has arrived in this cold and strange city for a convention on artificial intelligence. The corporation for which he works is a leading company in the production of ‘human’ robots for working purposes: it builds receptionists, nurses, soldiers and even some kind of human jukebox that can sing any song. Their goal is to produce more perfect machines… or, at least, more human. This computer expert does not fit in among his co-workers. It is hard for him to establish social relationships. He is trying to fix his crumbling marriage. His relationship with his partner gets more and more distant. Time difference and his own insomnia are part of the conspiracy that distances him from other human beings. It’s as if he lives in an alternate dimension.

To alleviate his loneliness, he visits the robots at the exhibition, and he explores the bizarre leisure industry that the city of Tokyo has to offer – it is possible to hire a person to just talk, to visit a café where teenagers are dressed as animated fantasies, to pay for the company of cats, or to buy used panties from vending machines.

Max falls in love with a waitress at the hotel, Mai, with whom he cannot speak, but with whom he establishes a relationship that goes beyond signs. Mai is full of mysteries, and some of them look dangerous, but the uncertainty attracts him. In the middle of disenchantment, Mai seems to be his only reason to live.

However, events will precipitate, dragging him into a chilling plot when he discerns who she really is… And who he is himself.


RELEVANT INFORMATION: Roncagliolo’s work has been highly acclaimed by the critics and the public. His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. Roncagliolo is one of the most respected authors in Latin American contemporary literature.

Roncagliolo has been awarded with the Premio Alfaguara, the Premio White Raven, the Carabela de Plata, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize de Londres a la Mejor Novela Traducida, and the Premio de Literatura Infantil El Barco de Vapor, among many others.

Tan cerca de la vida is set in Tokyo, but any city that is big and cold can serve as the stage for this fable about contemporary dehumanization that wonders about the true nature of love. Its cyberpunk aesthetics makes this book interesting material for an animated project as well.


AUDIOVISUAL POTENTIAL: Film, Miniseries, TV Series, TV Movies.


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