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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great novel
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...
Published on 8 Oct. 2011 by Lakis Fourouklas

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Really disappointed
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...
Published on 13 Dec. 2007 by Asian Beauty


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Really disappointed, 13 Dec. 2007
By 
Asian Beauty (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Snakes & Earrings (Paperback)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great novel, 8 Oct. 2011
This review is from: Snakes & Earrings (Paperback)
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. She may be an item with Ama but she doesn't hesitate to sleep with Shiba-san; even after he says that he really wants to kill her. At the same time she feels almost ecstatic at the idea of her forked-tongue. Actually she's so eager to get it that she places herself into a spot of insurmountable pain; almost flirting with insanity. Ama, despite his looks, is quite a sensitive man and he really loves Lui. He hates watching her doing bad things to herself but doesn't seem to have the power to stop her. He'd even kill for her; if she didn't kill herself first that is. As for Shiba-san, well, he's a man without a trace of humanity in him. He likes inflicting pain and that's probably why he's doing what he's doing for a living. However, maybe, just maybe, he's not completely lost, and a tragic event is all that it will take to bring some samples of goodness out of his dark heart and into the light.
Snakes and Earrings is mainly a book of characters. The plot is not so important. The author doesn't treat her creations with a gentle hand by with extreme harshness. She has a story to tell, and she'll stop at nothing, in order to do so. The modern Japanese society comes under the microscope, goes through her fine filter and comes out at the other side just as bad as it could ever be. Sex, violence, drugs, alcohol, prostitution, fears; she talks about all these matters in a masterful way, in a raw language that could be hard to cope with, but which is the only one that could describe things as they really are.
This is a hell of a novel, about the hell of some people's everyday lives.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars for long bus drive..., 30 Sept. 2008
This review is from: Snakes & Earrings (Paperback)
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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't Believe the Hype, 30 Sept. 2008
This review is from: Snakes & Earrings (Paperback)
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.

Since being awarded this prize, the book has naturally received attention and hence arrived in its present incarnation - the 'English translation', which no doubt will be picked up and pored over by all blinded Japanophile literary freaks who hail it as a work of worth, which it clearly is not. What it is, is this; a very simply (almost boring) tale of a dysfunctional, spoiled young Japanese woman who takes a walk on the wild-side and meanders off into Japan's underworld. End of story.
Unless you still believe Japan in all temples, maiko-san and Mount Fuji, you'd have to be pretty naive and a little desperate for clues to the Japanese psyche if you picked up this 'book' and gained anything from it. I mean you only have to look inside the Vintage imprint, inside the back cover to see the 'writer's' picture; the over-sized photo of an 'average' Japanese young woman with a penchant for piercing to really see both what the story-teller and publisher are both about here. It's re-hashing the same thing, playing with stereotypes and extremes. Conflicting the real, the perceived, the imagined and the conceived.

If you are really interested in Japanese (modern) literature then I would suggest you first read everything by MURAKAMI, Haruki, starting with 'Norwegian Wood' and after that head to your nearest LARGE bookstore and see that they have in the Japanese Fiction section. There you might want to read a little more that the blurb on the dust-jacket; in fact if the dust-jacket 'shouts', better put it down and look for one that 'speaks' or preferable 'whispers'!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very slight, 11 Mar. 2009
By 
Ian M. Buchanan (Cardiff, Wales) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Snakes & Earrings (Paperback)
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Short but sweet, 15 Mar. 2011
By 
MisterHobgoblin (Melbourne) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Snakes & Earrings (Paperback)
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. Lui decides to have a relationship with Ama, a man about whom she knows nothing, and to emulate him by getting a tattoo and forking her tongue. The story focuses around the pair of them and Shiba-San, the tattooist. What follows is an enormously empty, violent study of boredom. Lui doesn't seem to understand why she is taking the steps she is; she stops eating and chooses to live on beer alone; she works as a prostitute; she tortures her body in some desperate search for feeling but finds nothing. Even Shiba comments on her ability to take pain.

This is not a realistic novel; it wasn't intended to be. It is a heavily stylized Japanese novel; a literary version of manga. The characters are not supposed to be realistic or sympathetic. They are simply representations of traits in society which might seem attractive until studied in detail. Meanwhile, they create no great ripples and at the end the water simply calms over again.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good debut, 13 Dec. 2006
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This review is from: Snakes & Earrings (Paperback)
Only 100 pages or so, Hitomi Kanehara's first novel signifies a very good start to her career as a writer. The story follows a young teenage girl who has left home in her exploration of pain and pleasure through excruciatingly painful body modifications and violent sexual activities.

The writing is simple and powerful and will not fail to shock you and bring out powerful emotions in you. Although the characters are not everyday people you might have met, you will find it easy to identify with them in their lack of understanding of their own actions. Definitely a fresh look into teenage subculture.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read, 11 Jan. 2010
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This review is from: Snakes & Earrings (Paperback)
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. To a certain extent it is real, the piercings and tatoos. I got so into that i finished reading it within a few hours.

Buy this if you have read books like Shanghai Baby and Sputnik Sweetheart.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost but not quite "Blue".., 2 Dec. 2007
By 
Amazon Customer "MjD" (Edinburgh, Scotland. { Kobe, Japan. Saipan. Alabama.}) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Snakes & Earrings (Paperback)
"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. It won auspicious Akutagawa Prize for literature and was particularly lauded by Ryu Murakami; which was the main reason I read the book. As it turns out, it's not surprising he raved about it, as it is a 'homage' to his own "Almost Transparent Blue". Whereas "...Blue" was raw, fresh, dynamic & outrageous for 1976, "Snakes.." came across as being a rather cynical and jaded attempt to apply the same themes in the current era. While it may lack the edginess of "...blue", "Snakes & Earrings" is a well constructed exploration into the effects of alcoholism, co-dependency, tragedy & body art on a young woman. The story journeys through depravity towards redemption without wholly achieving its full potential.
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5.0 out of 5 stars detox, 14 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: Snakes & Earrings (Paperback)
Great book still haven't finished it yet haha.
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Snakes & Earrings
Snakes & Earrings by Hitomi Kanehara (Paperback - 2 Jun. 2005)
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