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.

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