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Product Description

Life at the prestigious Q High School for Girls in Tokyo exists on a precise social axis: a world of insiders and outsiders, of haves and have-nots. Beautiful Yuriko and her unpopular, unnamed sister exist in different spheres; the hopelessly awkward Kazue Sato floats around among them, trying to fit in.Years later, Yuriko and Kazue are dead — both have become prostitutes and both have been brutally murdered. Natsuo Kirino, celebrated author of Out, seamlessly weaves together the stories of these women’s struggles within the conventions and restrictions of Japanese society. At once a psychological investigation of the pressures facing Japanese women and a classic work of noir fiction, Grotesque is a brilliantly twisted novel of ambition, desire, beauty, cruelty, and identity by one of our most electrifying writers.

Review

“Vengefully mesmerizing. . . . Kirino turns an unerring eye toward the vicious razors of the adolescent female mind.”
San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Kirino helps us aficionados of crime fiction imagine the kind of novels James M. Cain might have written if he had been a Japanese feminist. . . . Emotionally harrowing.”
—Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air (NPR)
 
“A layered exploration of the human psyche, of the conflict inherent in need and desire, shame and humiliation. . . . A powerful study of people humbled at the altar of superficial values.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer
 
“Kirino provides an energized thrill ride as she also examines the sometimes-stifling stranglehold of Japan’s social hierarchy, especially for women.” — Seattle Post-Intelligencer

About the Author

Natsuo Kirino, born in 1951, quickly established a reputation in her country as one of a rare breed of mystery writers whose work goes well beyond the conventional crime novel. This fact has been demonstrated by her winning not only the Grand Prix for Crime Fiction in Japan for Out in 1998, but one of its major literary awards--the Naoki Prize--for Soft Cheeks (which has not yet been published in English), in 1999. Several of her books have also been turned into feature movies. Out was the first of her novels to appear in English and was nominated for an Edgar Award.TRANSLATOR: Rebecca L. Copeland, professor of Japanese literature at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, was born in Fukuoka, Japan, the daughter of American missionaries. She received her Ph.D. in Japanese Literature from Columbia University in 1986. She has published numerous scholarly studies on and translations of modern Japanese women''s writing.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One: A Chart of Phantom ChildrenWhenever I meet a man, I catch myself wondering what our child would look like if we were to make a baby. It’s practically second nature to me now. Whether he’s handsome or ugly, old or young, a picture of our child flashes across my mind. My hair is light brown and feathery fine, and if his is jet black and coarse, then I predict our child’s hair will be the perfect texture and color. Wouldn’t it? I always start out imagining the best possible scenarios for these children, but before long I’ve conjured up horrific visions from the very opposite end of the spectrum.What if his scraggly eyebrows were plastered just above my eyes with their distinctive double lids? Or what if his huge nostrils were notched into the end of my delicate nose? His bony kneecaps on my robustly curved legs, his square toenails on my highly arched foot? And while this is going through my mind, I’m staring holes in the man, so of course he’s convinced that I have a thing for him. I can’t tell you how many times these encounters have ended in embarrassing misunderstandings. But still, in the end my curiosity always gets the best of me.When a sperm and an egg unite, they create an entirely new cell—and so a new life begins. These new beings enter the world in all kinds of shapes and sizes. But what if, when the sperm and the egg unite, they are full of animosity for each other? Wouldn’t the creature they produce be contrary to expectation and abnormal as a result? On the other hand, if they have a great affinity for each other, their offspring will be even more splendid than they are. Of that there can be no doubt. And yet, who can ever know what kind of intentions a sperm and an egg harbor when they meet?It’s at times like these that the chart of my hypothetical children flashes across my mind. You know the kind of chart: the sort you would find in biology or earth science textbooks. You remember them, don’t you, the kind that reconstructs the hypothetical shape and characteristics of an extinct creature based on fossils discovered deep in the earth? Almost always these charts include full-color illustrations of plants and beasts, either in the sea or against the sky. Actually, ever since I was a child I was terrified of those illustrations because they made the imaginary appear real. I hated opening those textbooks so much, it became my habit to search out the page with those charts first and scrutinize them. Perhaps this proves that we are attracted to what frightens us.I can still remember the artist’s re-creation of the Burgess Shale fauna. Derived from the Cambrian fossils discovered in the Canadian Rockies, the chart is full of preposterous creatures swimming around in the sea. The Hallucigenia crawls along the sediment on the ocean floor, so many spines sticking out of its back you might mistake the creature for a hairbrush; and then there’s the five-eyed Opabinia curling and contorting its way around rocks and crags. The Anomalocaris, with its giant hook-shaped forelimbs, prowls through the dark seas in search of prey. My own fantasy chart is close to this one. It shows children swimming through the water—the bizarre children I have produced from my phantom unions with men.For some reason I never think about the act that men and women perform to produce these children. When I was young my classmates would make fun of boys they didn’t like by saying things such as, “Just the very idea of touching him makes my skin crawl!” But I never thought about it. I would skip the part about the sex act and go right to the children and the way they would turn out. Perhaps you can say I’m a little peculiar in that regard!If you look closely you’ll notice that I’m “half.” My father is a Swiss national of Polish descent. They say his grandfather was a minister who moved to Switzerland to escape the Nazis and then died there. My father was in the trade business, an importer of Western-style confections. His line of work might sound impressive, but in fact the products he imported were poor-quality chocolates and cookies, nothing more than cheap snacks. He might have been known for these Western-style sweets, but when I was growing up he never once let me eat one of his products.We lived very frugally. Our food, clothes, and even my school goods were all made in Japan. I didn’t go to an international school but attended Japanese public elementary schools. My allowance was strictly supervised, and even the money allotted for household expenses fell short of what my mother felt was adequate.It wasn’t so much that my father decided to spend the rest of his life in Japan with my mother and me. He was just too miserly to do otherwise. He refused to spend a single cent unnecessarily. And he, of course, was the one who determined what was and wasn’t necessary.To prove my point, my father kept a mountain cabin in Gunma Prefecture where we spent the weekends. He liked to fish and just put his feet up while he was there. For the evening meal it was our custom to have bigos, prepared just the way he liked it. Bigos is a Polish country-style stew made of sauerkraut, vegetables, and meat. My Japanese mother hated fixing it, of that there can be little doubt. When my father’s business failed and he took the family back to Switzerland, I hear my mother cooked Japanese white rice every night and my father scowled each time she set it on the table. I stayed behind in Japan by myself, so I can’t be sure, but I suspect that was my mother’s revenge on my father for his bigos—or, on second thought, for his stingy selfishness.My mother told me that she once worked for my father’s company. I used to indulge in romantic visions of a tender love blooming between the young foreign owner of a small company and the local girl who worked for him. But in fact, as the story goes, my mother had been married before, and when that didn’t work out she returned home to Ibaraki Prefecture. She worked as a maid in my father’s house, and that is how they met.I had wanted to ask my mother’s father to give me more details, but now it’s too late. He’s senile and has forgotten everything. In my grandfather’s mind, my mother is still alive and remains a cute little girl in middle school; my father, my younger sister, and I do not even exist.My father’s Caucasian, and I suppose you could describe him as small-framed. He isn’t particularly attractive, but he isn’t ugly either. A Japanese person who met my father would have a difficult time trying to pick him out on a European street, that much is certain. Just as all “Orientals” look the same to whites, to an Oriental, my father was just your typical white man.Shall I describe his features? His skin is white with a ruddy touch. His eyes are memorable for being a faded, mournful blue. In a flash they can gleam with cruel intensity. From a physical standpoint his most attractive feature is his shiny brown hair with its brilliant golden luster. It’s now gone white, I suppose, and balding at the crown. He wears somber-hued business suits. If you ever see a middle-aged white man wearing a beige button-up raincoat even in the dead of winter, that would be my father.My father’s Japanese is good enough for an average conversation, and there was a time when he loved my Japanese mother. When I was little he would always say, “When your dad came to Japan he planned on going home as soon as he could. But he was struck by a bolt of lightning that left him paralyzed and unable to return. That lightning was your mother, you know.”I think it’s the truth. Well, I think it was the truth. My father and mother fed my sister and me on a diet of romantic dreams just as though they were giving us candy. Gradually the dreams wore thin, until in the end they wasted away to nothing. I’ll tell that story in due course.The way I saw my mother when I was little and the way I see her now are completely different. When I was little I was convinced that there wasn’t a woman more beautiful than she in all the world. Now that I’ve grown up, I realize that she was just average-looking, and not particularly attractive even for a Japanese. Her head was large and her legs short; her face was flat and her physique poor. Her eyes and nose crowded her face for space, her teeth stuck out, and she had a weak character. She yielded to my father in everything.My father controlled my mother. If my mother ever talked back he would lash out at her with a volley of words. Mother was not smart; in fact, she was a born loser. Oh? Do you think I’m being too critical? It never even occurred to me. Why am I so unforgiving when it comes to my mother? Let’s just keep that question in mind as we go along, shall we?The one I really want to talk about is my sister. I had a sister who was a year younger than me. Her name was Yuriko. I have no idea how best to describe her, but if I were to come up with one word, it would be monster. She was terrifyingly beautiful. You may doubt that a person can be so beautiful that she is monstrous. Being beautiful is far preferable to being ugly, after all—at least that’s the general consensus. I wish I could give people who hold that opinion just one glimpse of Yuriko.People who saw Yuriko were first overwhelmed by how gorgeous she was. But gradually her absolute beauty would grow tiresome, and before long they would find her very presence—with her perfect features—unnerving. If you think I’m exaggerating, the next time I’ll bring you a photo. I’ve felt the same way about her all my life, even though I was her older sister. I have no doubt you’ll agree too.Occasionally I have this thought: Didn’t my mother die because she gave birth to the monster Yuriko? What could be scarier than two ordinary-looking people giving birth to a beauty beyond all imagination? There’s a Japanese folk tale about a kite that gives birth to a hawk. But Yuriko was no hawk. She didn’t possess the wisdom and courage that the hawk symbolizes. She wasn’t particularly cunning, and she wasn’t evil either. She simply had a face that was diabolically beautiful. And that fact alone surely worried my mother no end, what with her own ordinary Asian features. Yes, that’s right, it annoyed me too.For better or for worse, my looks are such that you can tell at a glance I have some Asian blood. Maybe that’s why people like my face. It’s just foreign enough for the Japanese to find interesting, and just “Oriental” enough to charm Westerners. Or so I tell myself. People are funny. Faces that are imperfect are said to have character and human charm. But Yuriko’s face inspired fear. The reaction to her face was the same whether she was in Japan or overseas. Yuriko was the child who perpetually stood out from the crowd, even though we were sisters and even though we were born within a year of each other. It’s strange, isn’t it, how genes are transmitted so haphazardly? Was she just a mutation? Maybe this is why I imagine my own hypothetical children whenever I look at a man.You probably know this already, but Yuriko died about two years ago. She was murdered. Her body was found half naked in some cheap apartment in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo. They didn’t know who the murderer was at first. My father did not get upset when he heard the news, and he didn’t return from Switzerland either—not even once. I’m ashamed to say that as his dear beautiful Yuriko grew older, she degraded herself with prostitution. She became a cheap whore.You imagine Yuriko’s death shocked me, but it didn’t. Did I hate her murderer? No. Like my father, I really didn’t care about learning the truth. Yuriko had been a monster all her life; it was only natural that her death would be unusual. I, on the other hand, am perfectly ordinary. The path she followed was clearly different from mine.I suppose you find my attitude chilling. But didn’t I just explain? She was a child who was fated from the beginning to be different. Fortune may shine brightly on a woman like that, but the shadow cast is long and dark. It was inevitable that misfortune would come eventually.My former classmate Kazue Sato was murdered less than a year after Yuriko died. The way she died was exactly the same. She’d been left in a first-floor apartment in the Maruyama-cho neighborhood in Shibuya, her clothes in disarray. They said that in both cases more than ten days had elapsed before the bodies were discovered. I don’t even want to imagine the condition they were in by then.I’d heard that Kazue worked for a legitimate company by day, but by night she was a prostitute. Gossip and innuendo swirled for weeks after the incident. Was I horrified when the police announced that the culprit was the same in both murders? Well, to be honest, Kazue’s death was far more shocking to me than Yuriko’s. She and I had been classmates. Also, Kazue was not pretty. She wasn’t beautiful, and yet she died exactly the same way Yuriko did. It was unforgivable.I suppose you could say that I was the conduit who led Kazue to Yuriko and to their lengthy acquaintance, so in the long run I contributed to her death. Maybe Yuriko’s bad luck somehow crept over into Kazue’s life. Why do I believe that? I don’t know. I just do.I knew a bit about Kazue. We were classmates at the same prestigious private high school for girls. Back in those days Kazue was so skinny it seemed her bones would grate together, and she was known for the ungainly way she carried herself. She wasn’t at all attractive. But she was smart and she made good grades. She was the kind of person who would spout off in front of everyone and make a show of how intelligent she was because she wanted to attract attention. She was proud and had to be the best at everything she did. She was perfectly aware that she wasn’t attractive, so I suppose that is why she wanted to be fussed over for other things. I got a dark feeling from her—a negative energy so palpable I felt I could take it in my hand. It was this sensitivity of mine that attracted Kazue to me. She trusted me and began going out of her way to talk to me. She even invited me over to her house.

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4.2 out of 54.2 out of 5
253 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

M.D. Kuehn
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
This was not the book I was expecting
Reviewed in the United States on August 7, 2017
This was not the book I was expecting. . Natsuo Kirino, known for her crime fiction in Japan, has turned the genre inside out in this one, only the second of her 19 novels to be translated into English. There is a crime, to be sure: two prostitutes are slain,... See more
This was not the book I was expecting.
.
Natsuo Kirino, known for her crime fiction in Japan, has turned the genre inside out in this one, only the second of her 19 novels to be translated into English. There is a crime, to be sure: two prostitutes are slain, years apart, which we learn within the first ten pages. But there is little detective work here, as the murderer quickly confesses, and actually very little discussion of the crimes themselves. Instead of the typical whodunit or police procedural, GROTESQUE takes the form of a psychological study of the main characters in a stark and chilling style: there’s popular Yuriko, a girl so beautiful her sister hates her and calls her a monster; unpopular, awkward Kazue Sato, intelligent, driven, not-so-beautiful classmate of Yuriko at the Q High School for Young Women -- she’s everything Yuriko is not.

Zhang, the Chinese immigrant, user of women and confessed murderer; and, the nameless narrator, older sister of Yuriko, who seems to hate everyone, with special venom, her beautiful sister. Through the first-person narration of Yuriko’s sister, and various letters, Kazue’s journals, Yuriko’s diary, and court transcriptions of Zhang’s trial, we hear from the primary actors, and we are led to sort out their truthfulness. This is a novel in which everyone lies.

The novel delves into some of the darkest, most disturbing areas of the human psyche. Author Kirino is brilliant at exposing the innermost workings of her characters, the desires, the lies, the jealousies, the self deceptions. There are no winners here. These are damaged, ravaged souls. As I read, I saw the characters, oblivious themselves to the dangers they were facing, falling deeper and deeper into moral depravity. Kazue, despite her education and excellent job, seeks a different form of acceptance as a prostitute by night, leading ultimately to her murder. Yuriko, the girl, then woman, who had it all, finds attention from men to be her only source of comfort and worth.

I haven’t given anything away in this review -- there are few secrets withheld in GROTESQUE. Everything is out in the open, raw, uncensored. Which brings me back to the unexpected nature of this book. I anticipated a more conventional crime story, or I should say, conventional for Kirino, for her crime fiction is a unique category all its own, brutal, honest, starkly told. GROTESQUE is a difficult book to rate: I admire its boldness, and its cast of deeply drawn characters. I guess after 500+ pages I wanted it to take me somewhere. It left me sort of cold and stunned. There is no linear plotting to speak of, certainly no happy ending.

This is a bleak, lurid, stark and disturbing look at modern Japanese hierarchical culture, especially its treatment of women.
11 people found this helpful
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Harlock
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A dark look at some very tormented characters
Reviewed in the United States on March 10, 2017
Forgot I had this book and discovered I had it in my shelves. Faster reading than I thought it would be. Part of the story seems to be an attempt to interpret the life of Yasuko Watanabe, a well paid Japanese economist who was murdered while moonlighting as a streetwalker... See more
Forgot I had this book and discovered I had it in my shelves. Faster reading than I thought it would be. Part of the story seems to be an attempt to interpret the life of Yasuko Watanabe, a well paid Japanese economist who was murdered while moonlighting as a streetwalker in 1997. The American translation has been censored from what I understand. Helps a little if you''ve been doing some background reading about Japanese society and high school life.
4 people found this helpful
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Steve
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Excellent but devastatingly depressing
Reviewed in the United States on September 4, 2020
This is an excellent book that I had a hard time putting down. But it''s as bleak and depressing a character portrayal as I''ve ever read. There was not a single redeeming quality to any of the characters in this novel, yet I couldn''t help feeling deeply for most of them.
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RavenhillTop Contributor: Pets
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Very dark, the true grotesquerie is in the human character
Reviewed in the United States on November 30, 2017
I loved "Out", and this was very different. It still has powerfully-drawn individual characters, but is about much darker forces in human nature. It manages to have great suspense and action, but moves more slowly. It can be painful to read as... See more
I loved "Out", and this was very different.

It still has powerfully-drawn individual characters, but is about much darker forces in human nature.

It manages to have great suspense and action, but moves more slowly. It can be painful to read as the characters suffer.
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Christopher L. Brunner
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Not "OUT", but still compelling....
Reviewed in the United States on June 7, 2007
Let me first say that this is certainly not "out". Not just because it wasn''t much of a mystery book, but because (in my opinion) noirs lack the depth of a writer''s narrative. However, I was immediately interested in the main character. Her wierd habits and... See more
Let me first say that this is certainly not "out". Not just because it wasn''t much of a mystery book, but because (in my opinion) noirs lack the depth of a writer''s narrative. However, I was immediately interested in the main character. Her wierd habits and introspections about love between men and women never left me bored.

The same can be said for the other characters: Zhang, Yuriko, and Kazue. Each one possessed and oddness about them that made their tales seem like an inner journey towards a destruction that was apparent to everyone but them; especially Kazue. I''d say if there was a mystery to this book, it was the characters who needed to figure it out. As readers, all we had to do is enjoy the view.

I was surprised by the sudden ending though. I hear it was an edited version of the Japanese original. I''d like to find out what really happened.

I look forward to her next book, as well would like to see movie versions of her books for sale (amazon, I''m looking at you!")
5 people found this helpful
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Baby Swiss
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great read! I love this book
Reviewed in the United States on December 14, 2018
Great read! I love this book. Have been buying this book to give to friends to read. Don''t miss it if you like a twisted tale of 2 sisters!
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Sophie
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
a shocking read, but validates itself in the end
Reviewed in the United States on June 9, 2007
After finally realizing the point of the book, I am hugely taken aback and respect the book much more. At first it seemed the author did not acknowledge how awful the first narrator is, and we are expected to follow her without any hint that she is in the "wrong" in the... See more
After finally realizing the point of the book, I am hugely taken aback and respect the book much more. At first it seemed the author did not acknowledge how awful the first narrator is, and we are expected to follow her without any hint that she is in the "wrong" in the world of the novel. After seemingly interminable narrations by other characters who work as prostitutes, the sordidness of the novel finally became a lesson of "how not to think." A middle class girl who works hard to get into top schools and a top firm never feels validated enough and seeks affirmation by becoming a call girl and starving herself. Her situation plummets and because we have heard so much about her in the 3rd person, by the time we read her narration we really feel her whole situation. She is reduced to having sex with homeless people under a bridge for a few dollars, and people run away from her in the street calling her a monster. Yet she uses the same mantra she has always used to stay the course "i am a graduate from q univesity, i work for __ firm. i am beautiful and skinny."

i remember how much i liked "Out," though i read it so long ago I don''t remember the plot. this book IS "grotesque" to read, but it is a necessary shock. a great reminder to make oneself happy first, and not to seek approval from others. the writing is extremely good at drawing you in.
6 people found this helpful
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John Vidale
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Spoiled by last section
Reviewed in the United States on October 4, 2008
A long book, written in several autobiographical sections narrating the action from contradictory points of view. It''s an innovative and engaging structure. For me, this novel had three distinct parts. (1) commentary on Japanese treatment of women as... See more
A long book, written in several autobiographical sections narrating the action from contradictory points of view. It''s an innovative and engaging structure.

For me, this novel had three distinct parts.

(1) commentary on Japanese treatment of women as students and professionals, with a focus on treatment of outcasts - articulate and plausible, very well-done,

(2) the story of a set of girls growing into woman and finding their profession - somewhat less plausible, as many of the characters are more extreme in one way or another than most people I know, but still engaging and full of surprises, and

(3) the decline and demise of two characters who lost their way - grotesque, implausible, and infused with a hopeless, violent, and self-destructive philosophy, which had no redeeming appeal to me.

I can''t recommend this book due to the bizarre musings and surreal, degrading situations in its last 50 or so pages. I wonder just how beyond-the-pale was the section that other reviews here mention as being excised in translation must have been.
8 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

Tom Ryan
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The Road to Nowhere
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 12, 2020
This is my second book by Natsue Kirino, having recently finished Out which I very much enjoyed. This is also noir set in 1990s Japan, but it is very different. While Out moves forward with the consequences of a horrible event, Grotesque tracks the life experiences that...See more
This is my second book by Natsue Kirino, having recently finished Out which I very much enjoyed. This is also noir set in 1990s Japan, but it is very different. While Out moves forward with the consequences of a horrible event, Grotesque tracks the life experiences that lead to two murders. We view events in our lives through the personal lens of our beliefs, values and experiences. Another person with a different lens can see the same events in a very different way. The book explores this by telling the story from the differing perspectives of four protagonists if a way I found new and interesting. The book opens with the story from the perspective of the narrator, told in a conversational style – rather as she might have related it to a stranger on a train. She later presents the journals of two of the other characters, who provide alternative accounts of what happens, along with discussion of their feelings. The narrator also provides the court testimony of the man charged with the two murders. This worked well for me. I enjoy noir that provides insights into the world and context in which the action is set. Grotesque does this in exploring the consequences of a society where choosing the right parents is critical to success in life. It also raises questions about the role of education in society – and in particular whether it develops complete people capable of functioning effectively and happily in society – or just part of the person. I found this book engrossing, as it explores the dark side of our nature. I highly recommend it!
2 people found this helpful
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A L H
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An excellent read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 7, 2017
I loved this book. Some reviewers have said that it is not as good as OUT. I actually prefer this one, but that is of course a matter of personal taste. Harsh and horrific, it certainly lives up to its title, and will definitely stay with you once you have finished reading....See more
I loved this book. Some reviewers have said that it is not as good as OUT. I actually prefer this one, but that is of course a matter of personal taste. Harsh and horrific, it certainly lives up to its title, and will definitely stay with you once you have finished reading. A shocking and tragic look at the lives of prostitutes in Japan, it is certainly not a jolly read but it is very entertaining and rewarding.
5 people found this helpful
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David Brookes
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Grotesque
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 22, 2016
Kirino is an excellent writer. Her characters are as fully fleshed out as can be possible and her narrative flow is excellent. I couldn''t wait to pick this book up again and continue reading. Unfortunately I was ultimately disappointed. By the second half I was realising...See more
Kirino is an excellent writer. Her characters are as fully fleshed out as can be possible and her narrative flow is excellent. I couldn''t wait to pick this book up again and continue reading. Unfortunately I was ultimately disappointed. By the second half I was realising that this isn''t, strictly speaking, a novel (in the traditional sense). The book is clumsily divided into huge clumps, some 100 pages long, each focusing on one character, with sparse interludes between. Although the characters meet and interact during each of these sections, and a lengthy narrative about their school years provides some cohesion, it really feels more like several short stories linked by theme but not really by story. It makes the whole book feel disjointed and unweildy, and I realised that the main narrator had little to do with the overall story, making her essentially a pointless narrator and more of a device to give the illusion of real connection between the characters'' separate stories. That said, if you approach this as ''the story of Yuriko'' and ''the story of Kazue'' that are bound within the same cover, you might enjoy it more and expect less from the ending. There is a significant portion told from the point of view of a suspected murderer which, although interesting, literally has nothing to say about the story or the main theme, and is only really relevant since that character shows up again later, again to little effect. Wanting to skip 100 pages of a book (and then wishing I had) means I really can''t give this deep and compelling piece of fiction more than 3 stars. I strongly preferred ''Real World'' and ''Out'' by the same author, which had more cohesive storylines whilst still being excellent character studies. David Brookes Author of ''Cycles of Udaipur''
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DBT
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Snip snip...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 6, 2016
I can''t add anything to the positive praise heaped upon this novel. I loved it. What I can do is clarify some misgivings about the ending of the novel. According to research undertaken by the University of New Zealand, along with the underage male prostitution section of...See more
I can''t add anything to the positive praise heaped upon this novel. I loved it. What I can do is clarify some misgivings about the ending of the novel. According to research undertaken by the University of New Zealand, along with the underage male prostitution section of the novel, the majority of the last chapter of the novel was cut in translation. Both these excisions were due to the length of the novel which the American publishers found too long [unlike the Chinese or the Italian translations]. What we then have is an incomplete narrative. How patronising and unforgivable - I''m really surprised the author went along with it....
4 people found this helpful
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Al
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Well titled indeed
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 27, 2018
Fascinating deep black look into the minds of, in this case - some young Japanese women. Awfully depressing realities. Horrific study of how low can we go. I wasn''t cheered by it but I have to wonder at the mind which wrote it, and where it all came from. Great translation...See more
Fascinating deep black look into the minds of, in this case - some young Japanese women. Awfully depressing realities. Horrific study of how low can we go. I wasn''t cheered by it but I have to wonder at the mind which wrote it, and where it all came from. Great translation - I hope. Need more from this writer.
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