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Snakes & Earrings [Paperback]

Hitomi Kanehara
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

2 Jun 2005
This tale of sex and darkness is narrated by Lui, an alienated young Japanese woman who becomes disastrously involved with two dangerous men. Lui first meets her boyfriend Ama in a bar after finding herself mesmerised by his forked tongue. She immediately moves in with him and begins following him down the path to body modification by having her tongue pierced and planning a beautiful tattoo for her back. Ama's friend Shiba creates this exquisite tattoo and as he works on it Lui begins an illicit and brutal sexual relationship with him. Then, after a violent encounter on the back streets of Tokyo, Ama goes missing and Lui must face up to her choices.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (2 Jun 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 009948367X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099483670
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 17.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 288,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A powerful portrait of the post-bubble generation" (New York Times)

"A picture of an eccentric world that clearly passes on what goes on in the minds of young women today: a radical depiction of our time" (Ryu Murakami)

"Kanehara is an instant star" (International Herald Tribune)

"Snakes and Earrings cuts straight to the heart. Will leave you absolutely exhilarated and begging for more. Kanehara is a new voice who owes absolutely nothing to anyone and reinvents the novel afresh" (Matt Thorne)

Book Description

A shocking and explicit story about obsessive love and Japanese youth counter-culture that sold over a million copies in Japan.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Really disappointed 13 Dec 2007
Having fallen in love with the so called 'New Generation' Wild Child Chinese authors I've been moving over into similar Japanese literature and so was excited to find Snakes and Earrings, given the mainly good reviews I had read.

To be honest however, I was disappointed with the book. Nothing to do with the sparse style or its length, rather that the author failed to connect me with the characters. I thought the girl was ultimately quite simple and uninteresting. There was little or no explanation for her seemingly random connection to the body mod scene, though having sad that I did like her actions at the end (I won't go into more detail as to avoid being a spoiler). Perhaps their own lack of their understanding was something the author was trying to convey but I felt it came across as simply a lack of character development. The writing was not anything special in my opinion - I am an avid underliner of books and I finished it completely untouched. To be honest I think there are much better books out there that capture the underground, disaffected rebellious Asian youth scene both more effectively and more beautifully.

Its status as a new 'cult classic' is one I would have to disagree with.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very slight 11 Mar 2009
This is a very thin, indeed a very slight novel. Not only is it short, just over a hundred small double-spaced pages, it also has practically no story. A girl meets a guy, likes his split tongue, decides to get one herself, meets another guy and decides to get a tattoo like he has ...the first guy is killed, probably by the second guy, and at first she's so sad she stops eating, then for no apparent reason she gets over it and starts eating again. I guess I'm missing something, but 'so what?' was my constant question as I read this. I guess it all got lost in translation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great novel 8 Oct 2011
Snakes and Earrings is not a book for the tenderhearted; even though it does become tender every now and then. Actually this is a very harsh story, talking about a hard world; the world of Lui, Ama and Shiba-san. It's a story about a different way of life; a way of life that breaths and breeds in the darkness of the human soul; of life without hope.
The three heroes live inside this world of ours, but mostly at the side of it. They know everything about its conventions, but they do not abide to them. They are just themselves and the road to destruction is paved by their own hand.
It all begins when Lui, a kind of a Barbie girl with as many earrings as one can get, meets Ama, a total freak who has even more piercings on his body than her. They hit it off right away and before too long she moves in with him. What did she find so attractive about him? What else did you expect but his forked-tongue and his tattoos? She's mystified by this creature. And she feels jealous. She needs a tongue just like his. But not only that; she also wishes to have engraved on her body the most original tattoo anyone ever made. It's exactly because of her dark wishes that she finds her way, along with Ama, into the workshop of Shiba-san, a real master in the arts of piercing and tattooing. As she walks through that door, the floodgates of hell seem to open wide and the oncoming waters are bound to rush her into the abyss.
Lui is an extreme character. She likes falling down psychologically time and again; to dive in with no regrets into the worlds of sin; to torment her body without giving it a second thought. She seems to live in order to suffer, and it's exactly this pain that keeps her alive.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars for long bus drive... 30 Sep 2008
I've read this book in the bus on my way back home from summer holiday.
I must say I'm not very impressed. I was quite surprised with all recommendations and comments on the book's cover.
It was OK read for this long bus ride but nothing more than that. I couldn't identify myself with anything and anyone in the book. it was horribly unconvincing, sometimes even ridiculous.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't Believe the Hype 30 Sep 2008
According the the rear dust jacket, and Matt Thorne (??) this book 'Owes nothing to anyone and reinvents the novel afresh'... Whoa! Just hold it right there, Mr. Thorne. Do you mean to tell me that a 118 page narrative of the absolute simplest kind (no praise intended there) - something which on a literary scale, is at about the same level as a depressive junior high-school could come up with, somehow steps over all that has been accomplished in the novel genre since c.17th? On what grounds do you make such a bold claim? Does Kanehara have a unique perspective on life? is she enlightened? insightful? Is she gifted linguistically? is she creative? Are her characters well-drawn? Does she convey and express an array of emotions? Does she enter the reader? hold their attention and leave them at some higher point - spiritually, intellectually, emotionally or linguistically, perhaps? - NO! - No! No! No! Then what?

This 'novel' - although I prefer to call it what it is and use the work 'essay', or 'story' was, in 2004 awarded the Akutagawa Prize - a prize which most often favours short stories and novellas over other more 'complete' works. Might we be so bold as to say this is not a 'serious' literary prize, and certainly (as with most awards) this was clearly a political stunt aimed at gaining some publicity for the award. The sadly ironic thing here is that in its Japanese language incarnation, this book is very tame and dare one say, rather cliché. The Japanese wildchild is dead and was buried in the late '80s! We all get it, that the Japanese are much more than grey, that they are also both black and white too.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Short but sweet
Snakes & Earrings is a short novel - more a novella - but the spare language means it packs in a lot. Essentially, it is a study of boredom. Read more
Published on 15 Mar 2011 by MisterHobgoblin
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
I bought this book, read it and loved it. I have passed it onto another three people who also loved it.

It's quirky, not too sure how realistic it is. Read more
Published on 11 Jan 2010 by addicted2amazon
5.0 out of 5 stars Pick it up and give it a chance
I first put the book back on the shelf when I read the opening lines and found out it was about body piercings - not my thing at all. Read more
Published on 14 April 2008 by A. Hasnath
4.0 out of 5 stars good.
their only seemed to be about three locations in the whole book.
but I really love that kind of simple feel,
and it is so so so easy to follow. Read more
Published on 13 Mar 2008 by flo-light
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost but not quite "Blue"..
"Snakes & Earrings" by Hitomi Kanehara is a short first novel by a young 19 yr old Japanese girl and as such isn't too bad. Read more
Published on 2 Dec 2007 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good debut
Only 100 pages or so, Hitomi Kanehara's first novel signifies a very good start to her career as a writer. Read more
Published on 13 Dec 2006 by A. Voulgari
3.0 out of 5 stars well-written but....
As with many contemporary Japanese writers, I found the sparse, uncluttered style of this novel appealing, but ultimately it was very difficult to connect in any way with the three... Read more
Published on 12 April 2006 by patashnik
5.0 out of 5 stars Piercing, blood and a love triangle what more can you want?
This book is amazing. I couldnt put down and i havent had that with a book for ages.
A definate must read for anyone who is into body modification or anyone who has read and... Read more
Published on 25 Feb 2006 by "hate_is_baggage"
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