Category Archives: Natsuo Kirino

Whoops More Book Ban Breakage

I don’t normally count readitswapit books as part of the book ban as to me its simply an exchanging of the number of books I already own, in fact on occasion I have swapped on behalf of others decreasing my numbers, I’ll admit this is rare! I have however included one on here as two arrive in the post today along with some that arrived via me and the shops, oops, the latter were meant to be 5 for a pound… I got 7 for a pound. Charity shops are making life hard for book lovers of late.

West of the Wall – Marcia Preston
I didnt buy this or readitswapit, this is a book for review for New Books Magazine and I will be cracking on with this on the weekend. The guys there have sent me some good (The Palace of Strange Girls) bokos to review and some not so (Tales of Kipling Audiobook) so will be interesting to see how this fares.

Beneath The Blonde – Stella Duffy
The third Saz Martin novel in the series of lesbian crime or if we arent going to pigeon hole it, bloody good fiction with a criminal hint! Have started the series this month and now have this so am very excited.

The Untouchable – John Banville
I already have this biy bought it for Dom. Gay spies who work for the Queen in a novel based on true events, sometimes you couldnt make it up, eager to try a Banville this year.

Calendar Girl – Stella Duffy
This is another book for Polly, she really is a lucky madam, read it this month and its grand.

Breathing Lessons – Anne Tyler
I have mentioned the love of Digging To America and how I am determined to read more and more, this one won the Pulitzer Prize winner so thought it would be worth ago frankly. My mum really loves Anne Tyler.

Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
I have been recommended this book so many times that I think I need to knuckle down and read it. I have to say Artist of the Floating World was one of my lesser favourite book group books, but the man wrote Remains of the Day (also on my TBR pile) so am hoping this lives up to the hype.

Out – Natsuo Kirino
You are so right, I wasnt the biggest fan of her second book ‘Grotesque’ this month however this has won so many crime awards I thought would give her a go. This was my readitswapit book, am actually looking forward to this one a lot.

Book Of Evidence – John Banville
Loved the blurb, the idea of someone being a ‘murderer second’ I think sounds very clever, plus would like to try a shorter Banville first I think as though he is highly recommended have heard that he can be quite difficult. We’ll see if its true.

Feather Man – Rhyll McMaster
So many people were saying that this should have been on the Booker Longlist, plus it has an amazing cover. This will be read very soon I think, I dont want to be the last to be raving about a book, that happens far too often on this blog. They had another copy maybe should run and get Polly one?
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Filed under Anne Tyler, Book Thoughts, Kazuo Ishiguro, Marcia Preston, Natsuo Kirino, Stella Duffy

Grotesque – Natsuo Kirino

Hmmm, a puzzling novel this one. I don’t think I would ever have picked up Natsuo Kirino’s book ‘Grotesque’ if it hadn’t been the latest Book Group novel, though it does have quite a good cover and I do really enjoy Japanese and Chinese fiction so maybe somewhere along the line I would have. From what we had been told by the blurb was that this was a dark gritty crime novel about the murder of two prostitutes in Tokyo, there would be sex, murder and mystery all told by the bitter sister of one of the prostitutes, and it sounded really interesting. In reality, well…

I would not put this in the crime section of a book store, but then I am not a fan of putting everything in to pigeon-holes, pretty much from the start you are told who the murdered of one of the girls and probably the other, so there is really no mystery to that part. The mystery is finding out the truth in the differing stories as the book goes along.

I would say this is a fiction novel that happens to have murder in it. So, what about the story? Yuriko and Kazue, two prostitutes, have been murdered in Tokyo; they are linked, not just by the murderer but also by a school and by Yuriko’s nameless older sister. The novel tells of the sister’s childhoods then their time at Q School and eventually moves to the order. I have to be honest the school part bored the hell out or me, it just went on and on and was then told by both sisters which I understood was to show their truer characters but even the author writes as one of the characters ‘these words may drag’ and at another point with some letters says the same, is this a clever way of disguising the fact that the author knows that some of the book is aware that the story is going on and on?

Other than in these occasional parts the writing style is fantastic which made me persevere with the book as I did enjoy Natsuo’s novel. The book is told in several parts, first two parts by the vile bitter sister cover their childhood and the present time not long after the murders, from childhood Yuriko is a stunning girl, something that makes her sister bitter, distant and hateful towards her. We then have Yuriko’s diaries a tale of incest (which seems to be a common theme in the book and if you took it as a true reflection of Japan could appear a high concern) and how she uses her looks to get ahead in life, and what happens once they fade. Then follows the trial and statements of the accused murderer, his story of how he ended up in Japan illegally after fleeing China. Then the other prostitute Kazue’s diaries, her tale I actually found the saddest and most desperate, how she want from a high flying student, to high flying business woman who has to resort to selling her body for money on the side, before the conclusion. Bizarrely what I liked with this book is that all the characters are awful and yet its still makes you read and you find your enjoying how awful they are to one another. Maybe thats just me?

So I think this is much less a crime novel and much more a novel about Japanese culture and also the state of the society as a whole today, the selection process of schools, and their hierarchy that continues into adult life. It is also a deep look into the female psyche and how what happens in your youth and how you are raised and treated can lead you become the person you are, and in the case of some how it has nothing to do with it at all. I found that side of the book fascinating. It really is a rollercoaster book of highs and lows. It also looks at how women are treated in Japan.

This made the book more interesting and made you read on so I guess there was a sense of mystery, sadly the ending with its ‘ghosts’ and ‘visions’ – I wont give the ending away – is slightly, no is, a let down. However that bizarrely hasn’t put me off the author, I want to give her first novel (which has won awards galore) ‘Out’ a read at some point. See like I said a puzzling novel this one.

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Filed under Book Group, Natsuo Kirino, Review, Vintage Books