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In the Miso Soup Paperback – 2006
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'A blistering portrait of contemporary Japan, its nihilism and decadence wrapped up within one of the most savage thrillers since The Silence of the Lambs' Kirkus Review 'Deft and fascinating ... A grisly tour of the darkness and confusion of the human mind' New York Times 'There is no shortage of terrors in this novel ... Atmosphere predominates, and the claustrophobia of the backstreets of Tokyo is intensely imagined' Daily Telegraph 'In the Miso Soup stays with the reader long after the book is finished and Murakami makes his readers as complicit as Kenji in their desire to understand why Frank is the way he is' Guardian
About the Author
On a recent trip to Britain, bestselling author Haruki Murakami was asked who his favourite Japanese author was. He replied that it was his namesake, Ryu Murakami. Renaissance man for the postmodern age, Ryu Murakami has played drums for a rock group, made movies and hosted a TV talk show. Whilst he was still a student, his first novel Almost Transparent Blue was awarded Japan's most coveted literary prize and went on to sell over a million copies. Ralph McCarthy is the translator of 69 by Ryu Murakami and two collections of stories by Osamu Dazai.
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The beginning, that tries to bring the decadence of Tokyo to forefront with main characters sleepwalking through it. The commentary on the life that envelops them feels more like watching a documentary, with rarely any insight or introspection. It sets the mood, with more than subtle hints of something ominous to change the mood.
The second part delivers the punch that we expect to happen, its gory, shocking, revolting & a gutpunch of a read, the pay-off is brilliantly done being a high point of the story. Then the next few pages fall short, trying to build some sort of parallel between the two main characters where there was none, all we can feel from page one to end of book is pity the tour guide feels for the American tourist & it ends with nothing changed, which is disappointing, as I was expecting more.
The whole novel feels like a rant by tour guide about how he feels indifferent at first, then pity towards his menacing American tourist & it ends on same page despite of shocking exhibition of violence to shake anyone of their shell. Its weird how 170 pages of interaction between 2 characters & then we learn nothing except what reader was able to guess in first 20 pages. The development stagnates as we go on a one-way ride to the "money shot" of novel & then fizzes out, which is sad as Ryu murakami builds 2 interesting characters & let them stagnate in one-dimension which they never break free of.
Similarity to "American psycho" is unavoidable, but it helps you to revere Ellis's novel more to understand just how hard it is to balance crazy gore & character development, which Ryu murakami fails at. At 170 pages its a one-dimensional tour to filth & gore in tokyo, with characters who you will rarely remember once you finish the book.
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