Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Grotesque in Us

I was expecting Natsuo Kirino's novel to be a shocker, mainly because "Out" was one and this book too was announced as a thriller, but it was beyond my expectations. "Grotesque" (2007, for the English version) tells the story of people who are ugly on the inside, who have no second thoughts about hurting, physically or mentally the others around, if that brings them even a little pleasure. There is so much abuse among schoolgirls, so much horror and mystery among women who become prostitutes just for "the fun of it" and who wish to actually be killed while working on the streets.

Personally, I found it hard to empathize with any of the characters, whether male or female, mainly because I could not visualize so much violence and masochism. However, this did not stop me from appreciating the writer's creativity in developing a story that starts with two prostitutes found dead in Tokyo to deconstructing the mystery from the point of view of a girl who is not very impressed with what happened, even if one of the prostitutes was her sister and the other one a schoolmate. Thus, we get to read the killed women's letters and journals, to see how they lowered their expectations and why they became prostitutes when their lives could have been quite different. A "must" if you want to discover Japan's contemporary literature.

Read for The Japanese Reading Challenge but also for Women in Translation Challenge.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


A few months ago people around the internet started playing this literary tag, mainly they named their 10 most influential books. I remember I posted them somewhere, after hours and hours of debating. It's time they were posted here, too, not necessarily in a specific order! Not 10, but 13... since it was quite hard to decide.

1. The Catcher in the Rye (Salinger) - One never forgets their first (literary) love
2. The Alchemist (Coelho) - An optimistic book during a pessimistic time
3. Sputnik Sweetheart (Murakami) - Haruki Murakami at his best
4. Tropic of Cancer (Miller) - Nobody does it better when it comes to ...
5. Anais Nin's letters  - Well... :)
6. The Museum of Innocence (Pamuk) - (too much) love and obsession
7. Why be Happy ... (Winterson) - my favorite Jeanette encounter
8. One Day (Nicholls) - It made me laugh and cry, and do it all over again...
9. In the Company of the Courtesan (Dunant) - It made me fall in love with Venice
10. The Bad Girl (Llosa) - What a story!
11. Candide (Voltaire) - Nobody beats Voltaire's wit!
12. Written on the Body (Winterson) - My first encounter with Jeanette's books
13. Sex, Shopping and the Novel (de Botton) - I have read everything Botton has written, but this is my all time favorite of his

Consider them my all time recommendations for falling in love with literature and books!