[Looking for nominations!] Intermediate Japanese Book Club // Now Reading: セーラー服と機関銃


Author: 本谷 有希子
Page count: 208 pages
Natively: Not listed yet, but I have requested for it to be added.



第7回大江健三郎賞受賞作! 優しいピアノ教師の一瞬の狂気(「アウトサイド」)、ボディビルにのめりこむ主婦(「哀しみのウェイトトレーニー」)、カーテンの膨らみから広がる妄想(「私は名前で呼んでる」)、猿山の猿が起こす奇跡(「マゴッチギャオの夜、いつも通り」)……奇想天外、前代未聞、野間文芸新人賞作家の想像力がはじけ飛ぶ、13の“アウトサイド”な短篇集!


A housewife takes up bodybuilding and sees radical changes to her physique–which her workaholic husband fails to notice. A boy waits at a bus stop, mocking businessmen struggling to keep their umbrellas open in a typhoon–until an old man shows him that they hold the secret to flying. A woman working in a clothing boutique waits endlessly on a customer who won’t come out of the fitting room–and who may or may not be human. A newlywed notices that her husband’s features are beginning to slide around his face–to match her own.

In these eleven* stories, the individuals who lift the curtains of their orderly homes and workplaces are confronted with the bizarre, the grotesque, the fantastic, the alien–and, through it, find a way to liberation. The English-language debut of one of Japan’s most fearlessly inventive young writers.

* The English translation contains 11 stories; the Japanese version contains 13.


Paperback (Amazon)
eBook (Kindle)

Personal Opinion

When I read reviews of this book, I got the sense that this is a book that could yield a lot of (literary) discussion, because there is an overarching theme: people losing themselves within relationships and their struggle to reclaim their identity. It could be fun to compare the stories and see how this theme is fleshed out in different ways. The fact that it’s a short story collection means that it should be easy to skip one (or more) stories if you’re behind.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club


  • Akutagawa Prize-winning author
  • Stories that are surreal and absurd.
  • English translation available, containing some of these stories
  • 13 stories, so easy scheduling :wink:


  • Absurd stories can sometimes be more challenging in a foreign language.


First Three Pages of Chapter One

Additional Pages

The first three pages of the second story.

Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • No effort at all
  • Minimal effort
  • Moderate effort
  • Significant effort
  • So much effort my head might explode
  • I don’t know

0 voters