Author: Natsuo Kirino
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Japanese Fiction, Crime Fiction
Stars: **** (4/5)
Summary: A man abuses his wife, the mother of his children and a night factory worker. One day he takes it too far and she kills him. Her “friends” are called to help her get rid of the body and hide the crime. But a body never stays hidden forever, especially when they become careless about keeping the secret.
Review: I thought I knew dark, and then I read Out. I thought very little shocked me anymore but this book managed to do just that, over and over again; murder, dismemberment (in this case cutting up the body into little pieces), rape… and then more of the same. Kirino wound a tale of how four housewives became caught up in the criminal underground of Japan, presented without any glamour or embellishments that the popular culture in the U.S. seems to be so fond of. Her descriptions were vivid and creative (and seemed realistic but since I’ve never dismembered-just so that we’re clear- a body it is just a guess), I actually had to put the book down a few times because it made me feel nauseous.
However, within the gruesome details existed a plot that was hard to put down. Will the police investigation uncover the truth? Or is something even more terrible than prison lurking behind the shadows? It is a tale of female image and identity in Japan, it is a tale of sinking into the depths of darkness of one’s soul, and it is a tale of trying to find oneself. The English translation was pretty good although I bet it missed some things from the original Japanese (books tend to do that in translation).
I really loved the novel… until the ending. Oh, how I hated (and I don’t use that word often) the ending. I guess it makes sense in a Stockholm Syndrome kind of way but I still didn’t like it, and that is all I am going to say as not to spoil. However, others may like the ending; it was dark, like the rest of the novel, and unexpected.