Out – Natsuo Kirino


It took a few chapters for this book to work it’s magic but once it did I was hooked. Initally I found the writing a bit stilted. My only other experience of a Japanese author is Haruki Murakami and the style between the two is quite different. That said, on the whole I enjoy direct writing and once I got used to it, thought it was perfect for a thriller like this.

Four women work the graveyard shift in a boxed lunch factory in downtown Tokyo. Each occupies a different positon on the production line. The hours are long, conditons harsh, prospects for the future poor. At the end of their shifts, the women are exhausted. Each of their home situations is equally bleak, for different reasons they all feel trapped in their domestic lives.

When one of the women gets into trouble, the other three lend a helping hand. Their shared despondency and desperation provides a kind of solidarity, almost a feeling of girl power.. for a while. What evolves is a downward spiral of grisly events, with some dark and suprising twists. Each woman is profoundly affected by her actions.The biggest threat they face is their own group dynamics and this is a fascinating aspect of the story. As is the attitude of the male characters towards each of these women and the very high value placed on youth. The strongest of the women, Masako is 43 years old yet despite this apparent “disadvantage”, she is the most appealing of the women to the male characters and is the heroine of the story in a bizarre kind of way.

Maybe not a story for those with a queasy dispositon! Quite different from anything I’ve read before, I enjoyed it very much and look forward to reading more by Natsuo Kirino.

1997 (English, 2004)
Translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder
Pages: 520
Challenges: Lost in Translation, Japanese Literature Challenge, RIP IV

11 responses to “Out – Natsuo Kirino

  1. I’m hoping to read this before the end of the month but then I’m hoping to read about fifty books before then!

    Pleased to read another review by someone who loved it.

  2. Claire – I can totally relate to the 50 book thing! I have been a bit enthusiastic with all the challenges and am now on the clock!

    Best of luck getting through your books and I hope you get to Out and enjoy it 0:)

  3. I keep meaning to get a copy of this. I read Grotesque by the same author and found it fascinating – if grim (although Out is supposed to be much better). Found your blog through my traffic links, and now I’m here it looks like we have quite similar reading tastes, so I shall keep popping by 🙂

  4. novelinsights – Thanks so much for stopping by. I just discovered your blog too (through Savidge Reads Sensation Season post)and look forward to following your reading 0:)

    Fascinating and grim is a good description of Out as well!

  5. Glad you liked this one. It is quite gritty, isn’t it? I’ve got “Real World” sitting in my pile of TBRs and look forward to it. I’ve linked to your review here.

  6. I absolutely loved OUT and Grotesque was ok but didn’t like it nearly as much. I also have Real World in my pile to read.

    If it helps to understand this author is meticulous about the translation of her books from Japanese and wants them to sound the way they were intended. So much can get lost in translation.

  7. Terri – Yes it is gritty, in more ways that one! I am going to head over and check out your review..

  8. Erin – Thanks so much for telling me about the translation. I did wonder if it was a translation thing at the beginning so it really helps to know this is the actual style. My library has Real World so I will read that one at some stage too. Hope you like it..

  9. Out sounds intriguing. I recently read Real World, and will post a review soon.

  10. Susan – Great – I will look out for your review of Real World. I’d like to read another of her books.

  11. Pingback: Out by Natsuo Kirino « The Sleepless Reader

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