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Outby Natsuo Kirino
I ventured into Out having gone on a detective murder mystery kick the great Raymond Chandler, the invincible Dorothy L. Sayers... So it was no surprise that I next turned to Japan's queen of crime writing. Out is a can't-stop-reading, classy, well done, get-into-their-heads type psychological you-know-who-dunnit. Excellent translation, her first into English. I can't wait to read more by Kirino!
Accidental murder accomplices-cum-investigators, a group of Japanese women rise above their status as timid factory workers and abused spouses to take on a world of gang members, loan sharks, and sexual predators. After experiencing this dark, intense thriller from Karino (one of Japan's most-prized crime writers), I can't wait for more of her books to be translated into English.
Synopses & Reviews
Nothing in Japanese literature prepares us for the stark, tension-filled, plot-driven realism of Natsuo Kirino's award-winning literary mystery, Out.
This mesmerizing novel tells the story of a brutal murder in the staid Tokyo suburbs, as a young mother who works the night shift making boxed lunches strangles her abusive husband and then seeks the help of her coworkers to dispose of the body and cover up her crime. The coolly intelligent Masako emerges as the plot's ringleader, but quickly discovers that this killing is merely the beginning, as it leads to a terrifying foray into the violent underbelly of Japanese society.
At once a masterpiece of literary suspense and pitch-black comedy of gender warfare, Out is also a moving evocation of the pressures and prejudices that drive women to extreme deeds, and the friendships that bolster them in the aftermath.
"[A] grimly satisfying tale. Crime and Punishment meets A Simple Plan — yet in the end Kirino manages her banal heroines' descent into hell like no one you've ever read before." Kirkus Reviews
"Brings the mystery thriller to new levels of intensity and realism....Out has great plot twists, vigor, and an ending that would make Hannibal Lecter smile." Library Journal (starred review)
"In Snyder's smoothly unobtrusive translation, all of Kirino's characters are touching and believable....
"A masterful and psychologically astute novel." San Francisco Chronicle
"The story is told in layers of complexity, at times with Rashomon deftness, with a view into personal lives and social dimensions that is both illuminating and unsettling — not unlike...the work of Patricia Highsmith." Los Angeles Times
"[A] dark yet absorbing portrait....
"Kirino's tale is so dark, so gruesome and so depressing, it left this reader reeling. No gritty urban American tale of violence can match the horror of Out." USA Today
"At its best, Out has the force of a juicy tabloid scandal: we witness the insidious merging of desperation and violence....Out is a potent cocktail of urban blight, perverse feminism and vigilante justice." Katherine Wolff, The New York Times Book Review
"Out is not easy to read....But it is a fascinating tale nonetheless. Noir fans will find themselves turning page after page in hopes of discovering that at least some of the women survive." The Washington Post Book World
"Like Alfred Hitchcock and Patricia Highsmith, Kirino succeeds in making readers vaguely complicit in her characters' crimes....[A] gutsy, unflinching foray into the darkest, most dangerous recesses of the human soul." Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Kirino...combines a strong plot with a canny description of contemporary Japanese mores and culture to make this an unforgettable work....This is a novel that will be shared, and discussed, for some time to come." BookReporter
"Dark, seductive and occasionally brutal, Out explores the lower classes of Japanese society with a distinctive gallows humor." Book Magazine
"A daring account of empowered Japanese women, and just too damn macabre to discount." Black Book
"The gritty neighborhoods, factories, and warehouses of Tokyo provide a perfect backdrop for this bleak tale of women who are victims of circumstance and intent on self-preservation at all costs." Booklist
"A brutally realistic picture of contemporary society....Spare, unsentimental." Newsweek
"[A] truly multiculturally applicable novel, meaning one that will be understood anywhere in the world where there are loan sharks, illegal casinos, and middle-aged working-class women toiling like galley slaves on the night shift in grueling dead-end assembly-line jobs." Greg Tate, Village Voice
Kirino's searing novel tells a story of random violence in the staid Tokyo suburbs, as a young mother who works a night shift making boxed lunches brutally strangles her deadbeat husband and then seeks the help of her coworkers to dispose of the body and cover up her crime.
A truly shocking thriller that gripped the nation from Japan's top female crime writer.
About the Author
Natsuo Kirino, born in 1951, quickly established a reputation in her own country as one of a rare breed of mystery writer whose work goes well beyond the conventional crime novel. This fact has been demonstrated by her winning not only Japan's top mystery award — for Out in 1998 — but one of its major literary awards — the Naoki Prize in 1999, for Soft Cheeks (to be published in English). Several of her books have also been turned into full-scale movies. The hugely successful Out is the first of her novels to appear in English.
Stephen Snyder, a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, is known for his excellent translations of contemporary Japanese fiction: among them, Ryu Murakami's Coin Locker Babies and Miri Yu's Gold Rush.
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