But also there are cases when people just give birth because they want to - like how our protagonist was born.
I was wondering this myself. I’d literally translate it as “Murder Birth” like you, but what would sell on a US bookshelf? I probably wouldn’t go for an attempt at direct translation (although the translation of コンビニ人間 kind of did the book a disservice). Maybe… “Pregnancy and Murder” or “One Death for Ten Lives”. Although those just kind of sound like cheap murder mysteries. Translation is hard! But I also think that Murata’s titles are meant to sound a bit “off”, even in Japanese.
True, but even if everyone couples up and every couple has one child of their own (which is probably an overestimation, as the population has supposedly really been dwindling), that still means that one in 18 people need to become a Birthgiver, which still strikes me as a high proportion.
Lots to take in this week plot-wise, but thankfully it was generally easier to read them the first week (dialogue is great for that…). I actually don’t really have any questions grammar wise, which is a first for me!
Thoughts on translating title: agreed, that Murder Birth doesn’t quite work - maybe sometimes like Fatal Birth or even something a bit more poetic like Blood Births? I like the alliteration from the second, ha.
Thoughts on plot:
One thing that I found interesting is that they are hiding that her sister has become a 産み人 - this indicates to me that there is still some stigma attached, even if the state is working very hard to sell it to the populace. Is it the family that doesn’t want others to find out, or is the sister? So many questions… But I am intrigued to know whether there is something deeper at play.
I was also amused by the jaded pre-teen conversation who things that Disney land is lame. Some things never change.
Really good replies all around here, and something I’d posit re: the practicality of this is how long it’s been since the 殺人出産 policy was enacted. Ikuko muses how ~100 years ago murder was considered bad so we can assume that to be the upper limit of how long this system has been in place.
It’s not as if the current state of things happened over night; this world is the result of a state-sponsored moral shift in society over generations. What may have once been a minority could have shifted into a majority view if given enough time and encouragement to grow. Drastic rewards and punishment alongside heavy indoctrination can easily spin public sentiment in a matter of years, let alone generations.
I really like @Aislin’s comparison to コンビニ人間; while the social norms presented are vastly different, the way they’re both framed isn’t. In spite of our perceived insanity of the world in 殺人出産, Murata-sensei has still made a conscious effort to ask the same question: What is normal? Just like Keiko, Ikuko is unsettled by the status quo but doesn’t know exactly why.
I’m fascinated with the world that Murata-sensei presents us with because it’s far more allegorical. In presenting an alien world, she can more deeply explore what rings true in ours.
Finished Week 2’s reading! The content of the reading really ramped up my intrigue in the story; it also probably helped that this section was easier than the initial week’s reading.
The Birthing-Murder System
First of all, thank you @jhol613 for your amazing description of the system! I was also still a little confused about some of the details, but you did a really thorough job at explaining it. The debate around the plausibility of this system was fascinating to read through! As I was doing so, I couldn’t help but think of how it might get exploited; for example, yakuza signing people up to give birth so they could “legally” kill whoever they needed to. In that case, it’d likely be a race to birth 10 children as quickly as possible. Of course, there’s also the births contributed by those who aren’t acting within the system. As usual, @mintyfresh brings up a great point about how long the system has already been in place. By the time the story takes place, it’s not terribly unlikely that the majority of people have been sold on the idea; or, they at least don’t speak up about it. People have been convinced of some pretty nasty stuff in short periods of time before, so I don’t know if I’d say it’s totally out of the realm of possibility. I think it’s an interesting concept in terms of, “just how far would the Japanese government go to fix the population issue?” The government’s desire to solve declining birth rates is a regular talking point. I know Japan currently subsidizes births to some degree, though I don’t know how much that’s helped in raising the population. Murata-sensei’s concept certainly takes the government’s desire to the extreme, but there’s a lot to be explored within that. (And I’m really looking forward to it. )
Misaki is a curious character. The way she commented on Ikuko sounding like a “textbook” and being bored with her answer was intriguing. Keeping my eye on her for sure.
A couple of things that I really liked, writing-wise.
- (After Ikuko brushes off Misaki’s comment and says her mother is a hopeless gossip)「お母さんって噂好きだし適当なことばっか言うから、いつも信じないだけど。」
I like the play on words with 適当：one meaning being “proper” or “fit,” and the other being “unreliable” or “irresponsible.” If we’re like Misaki and believe Ikuko, which I initially did, then of course it makes sense that her mother tends to say unreliable things. However, in this case, what she told Misaki about Tamaki ends up being suitable, indeed, since proves to be true.
- Gジャン：I was baffled by this, and it turns out it means “jean jacket.” I just love the short-hand of using the letter G. I’d say this was my fave new vocab word from this reading.
I don’t know if I’d try イナゴ. I try to be open to new foods/experiences, but…maybe if my eyes were closed and it was just the torso of the bug. Maybe.
Coming up with a good title for this in English would be tough. I kind of like @AmomentOfMusic’s Blood Births idea. Homicidal Birth? Hmm, hard to say. Maybe we’ll come up with better ideas by the time we’re done reading.