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Coin Locker Babies (Japan's Modern Writers) Paperback – May 1998


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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha International Ltd; New edition edition (May 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4770023081
  • ISBN-13: 978-4770023087
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 3.1 x 18.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,227,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"... an amazing, imaginative adventure." -- Beverley Curran, The Daily Yomiuri

"Deliciously grotesque." -- Philadelphia Inquirer

"Devilish and brilliant." -- Oliver Stone, film maker

"Its power grabbed me by the heart." -- Banana Yoshimoto, author of Kitchen

"Startlingly hip, frighteningly inventive." -- Roger Corman, film maker

From the Publisher

AN EXCERPT FROM THE NOVEL

The Market was a four-lane highway that ran through a tunnel in the area. The guards had apparently been bought off so that the tunnel could serve as a ready link between customers on the outside and the services provided inside. The system seemed to work, since the stalls that lined the road were doing a brisk business--with one difference: the commerce was almost completely silent. Not a voice could be heard as buyers and sellers, whatever the commodity, conducted their transactions in whispers, their lips pressed against each other's ears. The street stalls were fairly rudimentary, just a table and some chairs set up along the side of the road where the customers sat down and waited for the prostitute in attendance--in some cases a woman, in others a man--to quietly bring them a drink. The list of drinks was simple: watered-down beer or a kind of sweet wine in dark bottles. The freelance whores lining the street advertised with creative postures but rarely went out of their way to approach a passing customer. The men, it seemed, had been there from the beginning, but the number of women had increased suddenly when the underground highway had opened. Now they lined the tunnel, leaning against the walls, smoking with one hand and hiking up their skirts with the other. One woman had got hers up further than the rest, and the silver ring embedded in the fleshy lips between her legs glittered in the ancient yellow fluorescent light. A black woman languidly sucked grapes from a bunch, skinning them deftly with her mouth and letting them roll on her tongue like green marbles. Her dress, split down the back to the top of her ass, barely covered the sour, velvet skin beneath. A young girl was dancing in the street in toeshoes tied with white ribbons. On her thigh was a tattoo of a hydrofoil, and around her neck she wore a snakeskin collar complete with leash. A pair of twins had been painted on her buttocks, one per cheek, and they seemed to be clutching the real, lighted candle protruding between them.

In addition to the women, the tunnel walls were lined with makeshift drugstores which dealt almost exclusively in tranquilizers, the non-addictive drug of choice for both the working girls and their customers. A tranquilizer called Neutro, in fact, could almost have been said to be the pillar on which the social system of The Market was built. It was Neutro that one had to thank for the placid whispers, the smooth conduct of commerce minus the usual irritations and problems. Under a Neutro-induced haze, activity along the subterranean road was reduced to mutters, sighs, and muffled coughs, the sound effects of a concert hall between the movements of a symphony. The Market was a circus with the soundtrack left off, a silent parade, a muted ballet with only a light ringing in the ears gently lulling the spectator into the general torpor. Not silence exactly, but an odd, noiseless noise, like rustling silk, or soft footsteps on wet concrete--like a tongue sucking at a gap between two teeth, or skin on skin, or clear sake being poured into a glass. The Market was a masked ball with only the sound of the feathers fluttering on a thousand strange costumes. Those who saw it for the first time invariably said they thought they had died and gone on to some other life.


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First Sentence
The woman pushed on the baby's stomach and sucked its penis into her mouth; it was thinner than the American menthols she smoked and a bit slimy, like raw fish. Read the first page
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3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By L. C. Jones on 4 Feb 2002
Format: Paperback
In the 1970s there developed in Japan a very disturbing trend whereby young mothers would abandon newborn babies in coinlockers. Most of the babies died. Coin Locker Babies is the story of two who survive. Adopted and raised as brothers, their lives are, nevertheless, fated to diverge quite alarmingly and not entirely happily. The bulk of the novel is set in a semi-real Tokyo, the surreal addition being the existence of 'Toxitown', an area so polluted that the authorities relocated all its residents and shut it off from the outside world, only for the underclasses to move in and set up residence. The underbelly of Tokyo is suddenly concentrated in one location and a fair chunk of the action takes place here. Murukami, one of Japan's most renowned modern authors, considers much of the weirdness and conflict of modern Japan, with a particular emphasis on sexuality (bisexuality and homosexuality receiving far more treatment than any other Japanese novel I have read, and certainly portrayed as far more open and prevalent than is actually the case in contemporary Japan), but there is a strong surreal and psychological streak to the work. Coin Locker Babies contains much that is entertaining, even educational, but is, in the end, a tragedy with a somewhat abrupt ending that will probably leave most readers faintly dissatisfied, a sentiment one is rather unhappy with, given the overall excellence of the bulk of the work. Recommended, nevertheless.
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9 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 Dec 2001
Format: Paperback
I don't know about the english translation, but i can say that the french one is not bad, and that it is an apocalyptic view of japan, a bit cyber, with those strange feelings that you can't explain. The most achieved of murakamis books. But I prefer Totally Transparent Blue. (sorry for the mistakes, but i don't write english perfectly.
Julian
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Asprilla on 9 Nov 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having read all of Murakami`s other books, this his first i believe i read last, and it is probably his best? difficult to say as i love Piercing also, but this book is a psychedelic onslaught on the brain, every page is dripping with detail, and Murakami takes you to some amazing places, so descriptive, nothing is lost in translation, this book you will not be able to put down! As far as telling you what its about, nah, read it yourself!
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8 of 16 people found the following review helpful By "casper_the_friendly_host" on 20 May 2003
Format: Paperback
This is potentially the most enthralling and all encompassing of Ryu Murakami's novels. it explores the very depths of the human psyche and what it means to be an individual. it vividly colourful discriptions and unstoppable narative provide the reader with a journey of a lifetime. this book is perfect for keen readers of Oriental Literature or just individuals with a interest in a good read with an emotive storyline. let me finish by saying that the experience of the book stays with you, and your perception of normality and rationality for, life
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4 of 10 people found the following review helpful By S. Crowder on 17 Jun 2007
Format: Paperback
I've read the reviews by people on amazon, because a detailed book review is hard to find online, and I cannot fathom how anyone can see this book as being good.

It is extremely depressing and miserable, but not in a way that you can relate and feel emotional about, but in a horribly boring way. Every page turn, you soon learn to expect something terrible will happen, even if there is no real reason for it to. The author disjointedly writes about his shallow characters, whose actions can be predicted effortlessly.

Needlessly depressing, the plot slugglishly moves from one horribly predictable event to the next, dragging you into a world of misery, leaving all emotions except boredom behind.

I would not recommend this book, and although I have heard better things about his other novels, I shall be looking elsewhere.
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