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Grotesque Paperback – 7 Feb 2008

56 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; First Thus edition (7 Feb. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099488930
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099488934
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 20,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"[D]elves so deep beyond its own shock horror premise that much contemporary crime fiction looks like cheap, exploitative rubbish by comparison ....an utterly absorbing novel that gives as vivid - and disturbing - a picture of contemporary Japan as you could imagine" (Jonathan Gibbs Metro)

"Suicide, paedophilia, incest and murder combine with subtle touches of humour to form a story that will leave you questioning your own morality'" (Sarah Fakray Dazed and Confused)

"This is a rich, complex read. Be prepared for a book utterly unlike anything we are used to in crime fiction" (Independent)

"It is one of the most unexpected and playful novels to emerge from Japan in recent years...a triumph. In its boldness and originality, it broadens our sense of what modern Japanese fiction can be" (Telegraph)

"Unclichéd contemporary noir at its most absorbing and relevant...a masterful and haunting achievement" (Tangledweb.co.uk)

Book Description

A masterful and haunting achievement by one of Japan's most powerful writers

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By bloodsimple on 14 Aug. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who has read my other reviews knows I'm not one to lavish praise on any old tripe. So trust me, this is the best book I've read all year.
As Kirino showed in Out, she has an ability to blend a basic crime-driven plot, with a literate and intelligent view of her own culture and society. In Grotesque, this is matched to acute observation about the nature of beauty, and how the eye of the beholder (and, more importantly, the beheld) impacts on our lives.
This is not a read for someone who enjoys a fast-paced thriller, or a police procedural, even though there are murders within it. It will reward those who want to take a ride in someone else's mind, no matter where that may take them. For once, the over-used description "dark and disturbing" is aposite.
A class act.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Adriana Paun on 2 May 2008
Format: Paperback
Heartbreakingly realistic, I'm left in tears having just finished the novel literally minutes ago. A beautifully poignant portrayal of modern Japan and fantastically sharp in regard to the culture of "youth" and "beauty", Grotesque is the story of three women, two of whom are prostitutes, murder, incest and the slow decay of human life. It's not happy story, it's not an easy one to stomach, but soldier through and you will have a whole new understanding of the hyper-sexualized, individualistic, money-grabbing culture we're all prey to in the Western world.

Natsuo Kirino said it best: The things that shame us and the things that make us proud are only two sides of the same coin.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. George on 27 April 2008
Format: Paperback
I've just finished this book and all I can say is WOW. I've read the authors other English translation novel 'Out', and Grotesque also blew me away with the originality of the writing and the narrative. Although I am not Japanese, I could recognise the elements of how teenage 'girls can act towards each other'. The nastiness of girls is universal the world over. Along with the need for status and differentiation in even in the most egalitarian of environments - school. We also see how it can sow the seeds of emotional and mental trouble in later life. Grotesque lives up to the title, if you want to be amazed and shocked read this book.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Stevens on 21 April 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book really got under my skin. It is a dark, disturbing, often explicit tale of the need to be accepted in modern society and the pressures everyone faces in a class striken, layered society (here focusing on Japan).

It is divided into the journal entries of Yuriko (a beautiful woman whose meaning in life is to be appreciated for her beauty, hence her decent in prostitution)and Kazue (a hard working career who moonlights as a prostitute at night). The journal entries are collected together by Yuriko's older sister following the murders of both Yuriko and Kazue.

Each journal entry and intermediate narration by Yuriko's older sister deals with each of their experiences with remarkable individuality, each voice different from the others. This book shows remarkable characterisation by Kirino. The tale the characters tell is shocking and they revel in their own hatred, insecruity, jealousys, lies and hopes with disarming honesty - this makes their stories very affecting. You are repulsed by their actions and reasons but sympathetic at the same time. This makes Kirino's writing stunning; to sustain this balance among all her characters is amazing. Her writing often overflows with penetrating insight and disturbing images of individuals depraving themselves all to become accepted by society.

"Grotesque" is a very appropriate title for this book. It is a dark, disturbing, challenging novel dealing with unpleasant issues; prostitution, murder, hatred, jealousy and the seedy side of human life.If you are looking for a nice summer read avoid this. However if you are looking for a brilliantly written novel, full of a psychological insight and images that remain with you after you have finished then buy this book now. As I said at the start, "Grotesque" really got under my skin.

Thanks for reading my views

Jonathan
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Craobh Rua VINE VOICE on 4 Aug. 2007
Format: Hardcover
"Grotesque", first published in Japan in 2003, is the second of Natsuo Kirino's novels to be translated into English. Kirino is one of the leading lights of Japanese mystery writing - she has won both the Naoki and Edogawa Rampo Prizes, while the English translation for "Out" was nominated for the 2004 Edgar Award.

"Grotesque" is told largely by a thirty-nine year old office-worker, only ever identified as Miss Hirata. Her father was a Swiss national, her mother was Japanese and she had one younger sister called Yuriko. There were big differences between the two girls though : Yuriko was considered exceptionally beautiful, while our narrator was - apparently - widely considered unattractive. Where Yuriko, in time, gained entry to the prestigious Q High School for Young Women thanks to her beauty, her elder sister was admitted through hard work. While our narrator works in the Day Care Section of the Welfare Division, Yuriko was murdered two years before the book opens - having spent much of her life working as a prostitute.

Our narrator had a old classmate - Kazue Sato - who, barely a year later, died the same way as Yuriko. However, unlike Yuriko, Kazue had worked exceptionally hard through school, attended a prestigious university and was employed in high-ranking firm. She remained desperate for recognition and, frowning on marraige, worked as a prostitute in the evening. Within a year of Yuriko's death, Kazue was also dead - killed in very similar circumstances. Although one man has been charged with both murders - Zhang Zhe-zhing, an illegal Chinese immigrant - it's only Kazue's murder people are interested in.

The book isn't told entirely by Yuriko's sister : both Yuriko's and Kazue's voices are heard through their old journal entries.
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