Intermediate Japanese Book Club // Now Reading: セーラー服と機関銃 // Next: 変な家

Since you asked for it so nicely… :wink:

Note: This nomination was moved to the Advanced Book Club because it turned out to be more difficult than I had foreseen.

乳と卵 - Breasts and Eggs

Summary

Japanese

娘の緑子を連れて大阪から上京してきた姉でホステスの巻子。巻子は豊胸手術を受けることに取りつかれている。緑子は言葉を発することを拒否し、ノートに言葉を書き連ねる。夏の三日間に展開される哀切なドラマは、身体と言葉の狂おしい交錯としての表現を極める。日本文学の風景を一夜にして変えてしまった傑作。

English

Breasts & Eggs paints a portrait of contemporary womanhood in Japan and recounts the intimate journeys of three women as they confront oppressive mores and their own uncertainties on the road to finding peace and futures they can truly call their own.

It tells the story of three women: the thirty-year-old Natsu, her older sister, Makiko, and Makiko’s daughter, Midoriko. Makiko has traveled to Tokyo in search of an affordable breast enhancement procedure. She is accompanied by Midoriko, who has recently grown silent, finding herself unable to voice the vague yet overwhelming pressures associated with growing up. Her silence proves a catalyst for each woman to confront her fears and frustrations.

On another hot summer’s day ten years later, Natsu, on a journey back to her native city, struggles with her own indeterminate identity as she confronts anxieties about growing old alone and childless.
(from this review of an English version)

Availability

amazon.co.jp
BookWalker

Personal Opinion

I became aware of the author through this Japan Times article about the most important Japan-related books of the 2010’s, and it turns out that she is quite the celebrated author right now. Therefore I would love to read something written by her.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • The book won the Akutagawa Prize in 2008
  • I like the subject of criticism towards society and its norms
  • Very short (only 133 pages), so it’s a quick read
  • There are at least 2 English translations available, called “Breasts and Eggs” (one of which interestingly translates Osaka-ben to Manchester dialect).

Cons

  • Kawakami’s writing often employs Osaka-ben
  • She also incorporates experimental and poetic language into her short stories and novels, citing Lydia Davis and James Joyce as literary influences
  • (I actually don’t think these are con’s, it might just make the book harder to read, so I listed them here.)

Pictures

First Three Pages of Chapter One



Additional Pages



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