Monday, 16 August 2010

Out by Natsuo Kirino

I have done it! My first read for the Japanese Literature Challenge hosted by Belezza. Kirino who mostly writes Japanese detective fiction has received the Grand Prix for Crime Fiction, which is Japan's top mystery award for her novel OUT.

The novel is centered around Yayoi. She murders her husband in the heat of the moment when she gets to know that he lost all their savings in gamble in the amusement district Shinyuku, Tokyo. Yayoi decides to tell her colleague Masako, with whom she works at the near lunch box factory. Masako spontaneously agrees to help Yayoi become rid of her husband's corpse. Furthermore Yoshie another colleague from the factory happens to help them as she owes money to Masako. Unfortunately Kuniko, a despicable chatterbox and chronic broke colleague gets wind of the business of the three women. She helps to distribute some of the corpse's pieces and decides for a public park where soon the police is going to find them.

The novel is set in the 1990s, which is denoted by the recession after the economic high of "Bubble". Literary themes are isolation, solitude, disoriented young people, burnt out clerks and workers, compulsive consumption and excessive indebtedness.

Although Yayoi is the figure who murderes her husband the spot is on Masako, a resolute woman but also mother and wife. She is intelligent and hard but also lonely. I liked Masako very well although she represses feelings, she is a woman who does what needs to be done. The ending though was strange and not foreseen. It is great when the author is able to surprise the reader but what I read did not go along with my values. Actually the whole book did not. It's kind of challenging to read as one always asks: what had I done in this situation?

★ ★ ★ ★

1 comment:

  1. I loved this book & agree totally with the sense of isolation. On a different topic I worked in germany for about 6 years, mainly Berlin & I loved it.