In the Miso Soup
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In the Miso Soup

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3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  6,533 ratings  ·  516 reviews
Another roller-coaster ride from a master of the
psycho-thriller!

It looked as though Maki had another mouth below her jaw. Oozing from this second, smiling mouth was a thick, dark liquid, like coal tar. Her throat had been slit literally from ear to ear and more than halfway through, so that it looked as if her head might fall right off. And yet, incredibly, Maki was still

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224 pages
Published March 28th 2006 by Penguin (first published 1997)
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Norwegian Wood by Haruki MurakamiThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki MurakamiKafka on the Shore by Haruki MurakamiBattle Royale by Koushun TakamiHard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
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22nd out of 386 books — 1,724 voters
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The Most Disturbing Book Ever Written
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeffrey Keeten
”I had just turned twenty, and though my English is far from perfect I was working as a ‘nightlife guide’ for foreign tourists. Basically I specialize in what you might call sex tours, so it’s not as if my English needs to flawless. Since AIDS, the sex industry hasn’t exactly welcomed foreigners with open arms--in fact, most of the clubs are pretty blatant about refusing service to gaijin--but lots of visitors from overseas are still determined to play, and they’re the ones who pay me to guide t...more
Paul
Dec 25, 2013 Paul rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: novels
Another Murakami? I thought you didn't like the Wind Up Bird thing.

This is a different guy. It must be like Smith or Patel over there.

Two stars? Not that good then?

Well... nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnot really, but....

....yes?

It could have been. He lumbered himself with this boring serial killer oooh oooh Frank Booth-in-Blue Velvet nutcase when he should

- in your humble opinion!

- yes, yes, all this stuff in my HUMBLE opinion, I'm not the arbiter of recentish Japanese novels, I've read exactly three -

- all...more
Marvin
Reading this novel is like going to McDonald, buying a Big Mac and finding a severed eyeball under the bun....Then putting the bun back on and eating it, eyeball and all. What starts out as a sleazy, guilty pleasure of a pulp novel about an American tourist and his guide visiting the Tokyo pleasure palaces turns into a soup broth of over-the-top violence and nutty serial killer philosophy that makes Jeffrey Dahmer seem like the boy next door. Yet In The Miso Soup remains riveting throughout its...more
Yulia
In the Miso Soup follows the 20-year-old tour guide Kenji in the nights leading up to New Year’s as he shows Japan’s sex district to an American tourist who happens to be a pathological liar and may be responsible for the grisly murder and cutting-up-in-bits of a school-age prostitute (yes, your favorite kind).

Unlike other page turners, In the Miso Soup creates a story that never comes at the cost of character. Murakami has an impressive ability to convey individuals through a select number of...more
La Petite Américaine
Jul 29, 2008 La Petite Américaine rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anxiety Junkies/Japan Enthusiasts
Recommended to La Petite Américaine by: Kept seeing it on the Fnac bookshelt
Ok, this is the last Japanese book I'm reading for a while. Fuck me, this had me emailing my brother who lived in Japan for a year, asking him what the fuck is wrong with Japanese writers. His answer? Japan is all twisted, that's why I love it. Heh.

Although this book offered much more insight into Japanese culture than Kirino's Out: A Novel, while also giving thoughtful and poignant perspectives on American culture, I just can't stand this bloodbath shit that's popped up in both of these novel...more
Courtney
Nov 09, 2008 Courtney added it
Recommends it for: Brad Turcotte, Kim H., Emily, Whitney
Recommended to Courtney by: my sister
Loved it, love it, loved it. I hated every second I wasn't reading this book. It's quickly paced, but I don't know if I'd call it a thriller, per se, or use Silence of the Lambs as a point of comparison/reference (the Kirkus blurb on the front does both).

In the Miso Soup is tense and intelligent and sad and contemplative. I had any easier time with the gore than I thought I would. It was pretty explicit, yes, but maybe seeing it through Kenji's eyes--he's a very passive narrator--allowed for a c...more
christa
"In The Miso Soup" by Ryu Murakami is not the kind of book that you bring home to meet your parents. It is lurid. It is frightening. It is unpredictable. Murakami plucked ordinary words out of nowhere and arranged them into a simple, matter-of-fact horror. Like a smiling child with a box of crayons, humming the Dora the Explorer theme song, then showing you a crudely drawn crime scene with headless chickens and bloody axes and dead parents.

It is a delicious read.

Kenji has the slightly illegal jo...more
Sally
So scary, creepy-crawly flesh tingling, ickily real scary. I don't know anyone I would recommend this graphic of book to, but if you like, say, Sin City or gory chop 'em up flicks, this might be the book for you.
Be warned, you won't be able to put it down, until you see murders happen behind your eyelids when you aren't even reading .

Excellent.
Lou
A Tokyo tour guide gets requested for a tour by an American and it seems it's one job he wishes he did not take up as the new year closely approaches.
The prose is ordinary, story picks up momentum halfway and theres few pages where things get gory but large part spent in seedy streets and bars of Tokyo. You also get to learn bit about Japanese culture. I felt the end was stopped short that really left me bit disappointed with the story.

“Miso soup?” “Yeah. I’m really interested in miso soup. I o...more
Jana
In the beginning I said that I expect a lot from this Japanese sex book. The truth is, until now, I've never experienced full blown tension attack while reading some book.

It is horribly disturbing, and my anxiety wasn't connected with sex. I would feel happy if I were shocked with dark and twisted sex scene of Tokyo. I would be lucky if it were that.

But the heart of this book is purely perverse and utterly sick. I don't have nerves and stomach for it.

Characters are just too lonely and there i...more
Librivore
There are few things more frustrating in a story than underdeveloped characters. This book provides two such examples: interesting characters that fail to develop; and characters hijacked by the author to serve as his (or, in this instance, her) voice.

The concept of the story is promising enough: an american sex tourist hires a young, but disenchanted, japanese guide to explore the night attractions of the city. Add a neglected girlfriend, a murder, a splash of mystery and a passable translation...more
Leo Robertson
I write novels in my spare time- well, I've written one that's finished, and a pretty decent draft of a second one- you won't get any annoying updates from me though, there's plenty of that abound, and I'll be really careful to find the right audience and not bother anyone else...[1] Okay, it's been said somewhere, good [2].

What's my point though? Well... you can totally write about anything. I know you know this, but ANYTHING. Short stories about an alcoholic teacup. Microscopic space opera.

(T...more
Jelena
Based on some little knowledge I had about the author, I expected “In the Miso Soup” to be much more than an ordinary thriller or horror novel. And there was the attempt to be more than that, but the book still had too many weak elements to it.

The protagonist and narrator is a twenty-year-old tourist guide specialised in the Tokyo sex scene, who gets to spend three days (or nights) with his disturbing and disturbed American client.

The language is kept plain and colloquial, so that along with t...more
Ana
That`s not a book you read every day. Spooky, creepy, eerie, and yet, the closest to the actual human nature out of almost everything else I have ever read. Really makes you think.

Just who is Frank? Was his childhood responcible for the creation of a man he is today? Or was it just something inside of him, that would have eventually emerged, regardless of his lifestyle? And, Kenji. He`s even more of a mystery than Frank himself. We all smelled a rat when it came to this odd American who was late...more
Sonia O'brien
May 12, 2011 Sonia O'brien rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who can handle hard core violence
Recommended to Sonia by: Saw it at the bookstore
This is definitely one of the sickest books I've ever read. The killer is just a horrific person and the poor guide he forces to show him around is just trapped with a twisted serial killer on a spree.
Basically, it's about an American who goes to Tokyo on holiday and hires a guide who is suppossed to show him around the different sex clubs so he can find a woman. But, it turns out the guy is a stone cold killer and forces this guy to take him to different places around town while he kills people...more
S.
Thaswaddamtuhkinaboud!


Excruciating.

The neurotic Kenji, the truly unnerving Frank, lovely little Jun the pragmatic, the hideously accurate observations on culture and human nature the writer keeps slipping in sideways - his writing is at its best in these parts - all of it is exactly right.

The tension builds beautifully, the book is an exercise in brainpan claustrophobia, I had to stop reading and have a cup of tea because I was getting so bogged down in the atmosphere.

And what a dropkick. I ab...more
Kate
Feb 16, 2012 Kate rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those who enjoy psychological "thrillers"
Recommended to Kate by: Christa
Let me be honest. I had no idea what I was getting myself into with this book. I didn't really have any expectations going into it, which turned out to be a very great thing.

On the surface this book is about Kenji, a tour guide of Tokyo's sleazy nightlife. His customer, Frank, is an American tourist looking for a good time. However, after Kenji and Frank meet, the book takes many dark and psychological twists and turns that I don't really want to give away here.

I don't know if I can call this on...more
Jordan
One of the creepiest books I've ever read. I don't get creeped out very easily but this did it. I hate the comparisons to "Silence of the Lambs" because IN THE MISO SOUP is so much less dramatic and more real.

Greg Bates
Japan is a nation of extremes. Why does one of the richest nations on the planet have citizens who literally work themselves to death? Why do so many well-to-do Japanese teenagers turn to prostitution? How did Japan's intensely polite, buttoned-down society spawn one of the largest, most varied sex industries in the world? In the Miso Soup is a slim volume by Ryu Murakami that tries to grapple with the Big Questions, even as it presents a satisfying mystery. It concerns Kenji, a twenty-something...more
sanshow
Bought this in early 2000s and only got to reading it now. Japanese books, I feel, are very different in style to Western ones and I like the pacing and the build-up of the book. I like how many Japanese authors leave their endings sort of open-ended and with a touch of apathy, hope and reflection all at once. Nothing overly dramatical, or climactic, it's all very slice-of-life, although God bless us enough so that such scenarios remain in fiction.

The descriptions of Kabuki-cho is still interest...more
Ben Loory
Aug 21, 2009 Ben Loory rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Ben by: Brian
frank is not a good man. and yet for some reason i am on his side from the start. and it's not told from his p.o.v., so i'm not sure what this says about me. anyway, there's a lot of killin' in this book. some of it is pretty gross. like, as in, american psycho gross. only not as repetitive. and yet somehow it's kind of a pretty book. even beautiful. uplifting. i don't know how this guy writes these books. i don't know how he pulls them off. they seem to defy understanding. they don't make sense...more
Megan
This is one of those books that really needs to be read more than once. The first time through, I was so caught up in the story & the suspense ~ and I am sure that there is so much more to this book that I simply wasn't able to appreciate after reading it so quickly.

I can say that I liked it better than I expected to. Don't remember what provoked me to add it to my TBR list in the first place. I am not particularly interested in Japanese culture or crime thrillers (which this actually wasn'...more
tee
Sep 04, 2010 tee rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: i-own
So you probably know from the synopsis that this story is about Kenji, a tourist guide to Frank - an American. What you don't know is that there's 130 pages of Kenji ruminating on his suspicions of Frank being a serial killer, then there's a brutal slaughter which may make you question the sanity of the author, then the rest of the book is mostly dialogue between Kenji and Frank; the stuff that beginnings of friendships are made of. All rainbows and unicorns and recounting tales of your charming...more
Karen Hansen
It's been a few days and I still don't know what to think of this book. Ryu Murakami's writing style and theming was very similar to Chuck Palahniuk or Bret Easton Ellis, although not as good. I forgive this to an extent, because some of the style was probably lost in the translation and also might be better understood from a cultural standpoint.

I thought parts of this book were brilliant, but just as soon as I was enjoying it, it would go in a different direction that I didn't like.

I don't thi...more
Thermalsatsuma
Kenji is a nightlife guide, escorting foreign tourists – gaijin – around the Kabuki-cho red light district of Tokyo, with its hostess bars, peep shows, love hotels and other, darker, attractions. It’s not exactly a respectable line of work, but it pays well and after two years he knows most of the touts and club owners of the district, so it’s reasonably safe too. That is, until he meets Frank.

At first sight Frank appears to be a typical American abroad – overweight and loud mouthed, with a ten...more
Tim Niland
This extraordinary story, might just be the most disturbing book I have ever read. Not just for violence, although there are some extremely graphic scenes of bloodshed, but it is the unflinching examination of loneliness and life and what it means to be alive in Japan and the United States. Kenji is a tour guide in Tokyo, specializing in showing visiting tourists the ins and outs of Tokyo's sex scene. He is contacted by Frank, who he thinks at first is merely another American tourist looking for...more
Dave
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Razvan Zamfirescu
Kenji este un ghid turistic al plăcerilor din Tokyo. Cunoaṣte foarte bine cartierul în care se vinde sex, ṣtie toate bordelurile ṣi localurile în care îṭi poṭi procura sex, precum ṣi pe cei care îṣi oferă trupurile pentru bani. Are o mică firmă prin care este contractat ṣi astfel Kenji câṣtigă un ban cinstit. Este deṣtept, tânăr, frumuṣel, are o sumă pusă deoparte, are o prietenă liceeancă pe care o iubeṣte ṣi cu care are planuri de Crăciun ṣi Revelion. Când îl sună americanul Frank, nu se gânde...more
Joana Marta
I started this book without any expectations whatsoever. I like to read about Asian culture, so, when it was offered to me, I was quite curious.

The book starts precisely when Kenji meets Frank, an American that is visiting Tokyo for business. Frank hires Kenji for three nights with the objective of being introduced to the night life of Japan (which means sex, obviously). It’s in the first night that Kenji notices that some things don’t seem right with Frank. The “Face”, the stories he tells tha...more
Brian
Yowza! What can I say about this book? What should I say? Kenji is a tour guide for foreigners visiting Tokyo, but not your ordinary tour guide; he's a sex industry tour guide specializing in providing excursions into the many different type of sex clubs and shops in the sleazy part of town. His American client, Frank, seems a bit off... let me reword that... His American client, Frank, is seriously fried, screwed up beyond repair! You can hear his brain sizzling like the neon lights in the city...more
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Ryū Murakami is a Japanese novelist and filmmaker. He is not related to Haruki Murakami or Takashi Murakami.

Murakami's first work, the short novel Almost Transparent Blue, written while he was still a student, deals with promiscuity and drug use among disaffected Japanese youth. Critically acclaimed as a new style of literature, it won the newcomer's literature prize in 1976 despite some observers...more
More about Ryū Murakami...
Coin Locker Babies Almost Transparent Blue Piercing Audition 69 (Kodansha Modern Writers)

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“People who love horror films are people with boring lives... when a really scary movie is over, you're reassured to see that you're still alive and the world still exists as it did before. That's the real reason we have horror films - they act as shock absorbers - and if they disappeared altogether, I bet you'd see a big leap in the number of serial killers. After all, anyone stupid enough to get the idea of murdering people from a movie could get the same idea from watching the news.” 80 likes
“... The type of loneliness where you need to keep struggling to accept a situation is fundamentally different than the sort you know you'll get through if you just hang in there” 42 likes
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