Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino - Book Review


Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino  Book Review


      Grotesque - what a superb and apt title for this book, - tells the story of two half Japanese sisters, one, impossibly beautiful and of course, hugely attractive to men, while the other, the opposite in almost every conceivable way. Their contemporaries tease them unmercifully that they must have had different fathers. Could that be the truth of it?

The book is set in Japan, China, and Switzerland, and each section I found equally interesting, and believable.

This is a story about sibling rivalry, sibling hatred even, that festers and slowly draws the reader in until you are compelled to discover more. The beautiful one, Yuriko, grows up and becomes a prostitute. Why shouldn't she? She constantly needs men and what better profession could there be?

The story is told in the first person, but by four different people, so there is some repetition of events here, but because the viewpoints are different, the facts differ, and the story weaves a different course, keeping the reader interested and guessing.

This is a dark and disturbing book involving prostitution, under age sex, incest, illegal immigration, senility, suicide and murder, and all among quite ordinary mortals who are ultimately simply seeking love, and to be loved. It is the second novel by the Japanese writer Natsuo Kirino to be translated into English, the first being the highly acclaimed, Out.

It is a longer book than might first appear, ideal then for the concentrated holiday read. True, there are only 467 pages, but the print is quite small, and I estimate the word count must be pushing up toward the quarter of a million mark; a considerable body of work in any language. It was translated into English by Rebecca Copeland who has clearly done an excellent job.

I enjoyed Grotesque immensely, never once feeling the need to set it aside and begin something else, but more than that; I shall miss it now that it no longer sits beside my bed. It isn't a jolly-jolly novel, the title and subject matter says everything about that, but it is a compelling read, and one that I would definitely recommend.


Far Eastern Literature


I have long had an interest in far eastern literature, particularly Japanese and Chinese, and I am not alone in that, as their books are being translated and are selling in ever increasing numbers in the west. Here's a striking young American woman who apparently lives in Japan, reviewing some modern Japanese literature, including the aforementioned Out, by Natsuo Kirino. It's a nice and informative video, - thank you for putting that up. Enjoy.




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