Log in

No account? Create an account
"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Coin Locker Babies by Murakami Ryu 
25th-Apr-2008 11:59 pm
Murakami, Ryu. Coin Locker Babies. Trans. Stephen Snyder. 1995. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 2002.
          Summary: Kiku and Hashi are "coin locker babies," infants abandoned by their mothers at birth and stuffed into coin lockers. Raised first in an orphanage and then by an adoptive family on an island off the coast of Yokohama, the two eventually end up in Tokyo. Hashi becomes a famous, bisexual rock star who descends into madness. Kiku, meanwhile, always the jock, decides to launch a DATURA attack on the city--and after a brief sojourn in a juvenile penitentiary, he does just that.
          Comments: The whole DATURA thing. I didn't really think that Kiku would do it. I mean, what sort of way to conclude such a magnum opus of a novel is that? With some sort of near-futuristic, self-hating apocalypse? But I guess I should have known...the Japanese generally don't do irony. And Murakami Ryu, child of the counterculture, definitely doesn't. Make no mistake, though; this is a magisterial novel, and Kodansha International's cute little brick of a book doesn't do paratextual justice to its scope. You follow the boys from birth on into adulthood, and countless scenes and scenarios, from the ordinary to the extraordinary to the extraordinarily grotesque are described with enrapturing detail. (The violence against women--and crocodiles!--was rather off-putting, however. A lot of these men writing stories about and for men in the 1980s in Japan are profoundly misogynistic, and Coin Locker Babies is no exception.) Stories of societally disaffected people seem to be quite popular in Japan, and they constitute some of the best in contemporary Japanese fiction. This book is right up there with Out and Battle Royale, as far as I'm concerned. Oh, and to sum up: the English prose is beautiful to boot. Translator Stephen Snyder is among the best in the biz.
          Notes: trade paperback, 6th printing; first published in Japan in 1980
          Rating: 7.5/10 - Seinen mangaka ought to be eating their hearts out. Up until reading this book, I'd thought Murakami was a pseudo-literary sensationalist hack. Now I know he can actually write. And so will you if you read this novel. Which I suggest doing right quick.
This page was loaded Jul 19th 2018, 11:15 pm GMT.