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Snakes and Earrings

3.18 of 5 stars 3.18  ·  rating details  ·  2,246 ratings  ·  248 reviews
The Prize-Winning Cult Classic and International Bestseller with Over 1 Million Copies Sold

Describing a world as amoral and fascinating as the landscapes of Less Than Zero and Trainspotting, this novel about a young woman living in the violent world of Japan's underground youth culture is both shocking and strangely beautiful.

Enchanted by the snakelike forked tongue of

...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published May 30th 2006 by Plume (first published December 1st 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Shannon
Nov 11, 2014 Shannon rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one, even people i dislike
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tea Jovanović
Prošle su dve godine otkako je moj tim radio na ovoj knjizi... I već dve godine se moja lektorka i ja pitamo kome je namenjena ova knjiga... Veliki bestseler u Japanu, u redu... A čime je to ova knjiga zaslužila, pitamo se nas dve? Nikad nam teže nije pao rad na nekoj knjizi... Niti ima jezičke vrednosti, niti stilske, niti interesantnu fabulu (prvi put u životu mi je bilo muka dok čitam neku knjigu, srečom te nema previše strana)... O ukusima se ne raspravlja, tačno... samo se nas dve pitamo, k ...more
Caroline
I was introduced to Hitomi Kanehara at an author event with Melvin Burgess. He talked about several YA books by Japanese authors who didn't try to write about adults in teenage disguise but about real teenagers. I was very intrigued and bought the tiny book that is Snakes and Earrings. My friend Sabrina and I read it and we just couldn't stop thinking and talking about this book.


The book has extremely explicit content and I will mention that content in my review, so if you are faint-hearted, ple
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Michaela
This book made me feel like I was in workshop again and reading the first draft of someone's manuscript. I don't know if something got lost in translation, but the writing isn't sophisticated -- it seems really amateurish. (And yes, I realize this is first novel, but the writing still bothers me. Everything is overwritten, and there are a lot of cliches.) The dialogue is choppy in a bad way. (I really hate it when people tag their dialogue with adverbs because the actual dialogue itself/context ...more
David
Garbage.
Britt☮
Sep 02, 2010 Britt☮ rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Britt☮ by: Ingrid E
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Debbie Ding
one day y___ left it on a table and then i accidentally read the entire thing in the time he went for a walk and came back.

short and simple novella written by what was apparently a rather young author, which is where the hype comes from. all i can say is: i think i could write better than that, except that i dont want to write out a predictable, thinly veiled semi-autobiography of my life. however i'm sure the thought of a barely legal girl writing about sex surely gets many middle aged male pub
...more
Philippe Malzieu
A punk thriller. Dark side of Japan. An autodestructive wandering. Eros and thanatos, but the love without pleasure and the death by torture. Piercing, tattoo, self-mutilation and snake tong.
In fact, it is a void literature which it's self-caricature.
No interest
Evan
He who speak with forked tongue...may not necessarily be wise (or some such)...
Fairly simple tome. Japanese urban youth culture. Barbie girl goes to techno club and meets bad boy with a forked snake tongue obtained through gradual body modification/mutilation (take your pick). She becomes fascinated and turned on, they fuck immediately; she becomes immersed in the tattoo and piercing/ body modification world; wants a snake tongue, too, yadda yadda. Kind of fascinating so far as a socio-cultural
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Mark
Mar 04, 2008 Mark rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: angst filled teens and wild & crazy 20somethings
This book is fairly raunchy, which I don't have a problem with. Unfortunately, it's also poorly written, which I do have a problem with. Perhaps the New York Times finds this story of BDSM and body modification to be "powerful," but I was unimpressed, having seen it all before. The supreme irony is that this is a book with adult content written by and for young people. The author is an incredibly hot 20-year old from Japan ("the youngest author ever to win Japan's prestigious Akutagawa Prize"), ...more
randy
This book was free and only 120 pages.
I figured it would be worth a read as the cover clearly states it won the Japanese award for best new literary talent.

Um... Not so much.

It took less than two hours to read, but I feel that every second I spent reading this I wasted and now have to live with the idea that I will never get them back.

First, this book seems only about titillation. And I am for good titillation as the next person, but this is far from the good kind. This is nihilist desperate t
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Danielle
If you can't handle sadism and masochism, please avoid this book. It is explicit in its descriptions of sex and mutilation, so it certainly is not for everyone. Read it if these subjects don't bother you and you are interested in learning about a niche of subculture that has gained media attention in recent years. It's quite short - should only take you a couple of hours, tops.

I liked the empty tone of the work and the seeming nonchalance of the main character that surfaced at times. That said,
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Toru
"Know what a forked tongue is?"
"One that's split in two?"
"Yeah, like the tongue of a tongue of a snake or lizard. Except sometimes... they don't belong to a snake, and they don't belong to a lizard."
He deliberately removed the cigarette from his lips and stuck out his tongue. Its tip was clearly split in two, just like that of a snake. Then i watched, transfixed, as he lifted the right tip of it, then skillfully grasped his cigarette in the crux of the "V."
"Whoa..."
This was my first encount
...more
Nikita
Feb 06, 2010 Nikita rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nikita by: Amie
Shelves: no-sir
Let me say this first - Snakes and Earrings by Hitomi Kanechara is short. 120, largish text, double-spaced short. It is also reasonably engrossing read - I picked it up around midnight last night and finished it by 1:30. However, this book didn't leave me with much of anything. Our 'heroine' Lui is complacent and one-dimensional, her boyfriend Ama and part-time lover Shiba-san are not much better, and the reader is left with the sense that the body modification and surrounding culture that this ...more
Dilyana Georgieva
"Брутално четиво", предупреди ме сипатичният младеж, който ми продаде книгата. Първите няколко страници прочетох в маршрутка и подозирам, че не от подскоците й ми стана лошо. Подробната описателност на разкъсваща се плът и садомазохистичните сцени са в пълен контраст на младата, кльощава кукла, която си изкарва прехраната като скъпоплатена компаньонка. Един пънкар и един татуист преобръщат скучния й рус живот. Между обиците и татуровките Луи се превръща от хладнокръвна в студенокръвна, крайности ...more
Bahram Bahrami
I found this novel interesting. Generally we have a cliche view of japanese women, the author Hitomi Kanehara changes that touristic vision found in Holywood movies.
Brian
I read Snakes and Earrings by Hitomi Kanehara last night and my scrotum is still hiding somewhere behind my liver. Damn but this book hurt to read and not in a good way. After reading Japanese writers like Murakami, Kawabata, and Natsume, i can say that this was not a refreshing read by an 'up-and-coming' Japanese writer who was born when i was already deep in my own debauchery. Kanehara won the Akutagawa prize (top Japanese literary award for new writers) with this book. all i can say is Japan ...more
Lakis Fourouklas
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
...more
Alex
Read 21/05/2013

Nicely written, and a somewhat interesting story. I think that on the surface it appears quite easy to understand, but there's probably more to think about, and it feels like the sort of book I want to read more about, and have discussions about. There must be some reasoning behind Lui's actions, why she gets sucked into this world, why she chooses to follow Ama's body modification trail.

I can't help but feel the book was too short for the story. The first 70 pages or so all felt
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Bjorn
Apr 23, 2013 Bjorn rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: japan
Lui is 19 and sick of being a good girl all dressed in pink and kawaii. She moves in with a violent boyfriend full of tattoos and piercings, and when he suggests piercing her tongue, she goes with it. It's all good and well until he introduces her to his tattoo artist, who enjoys inflicting pain a little more than most people... not that Lui minds.

Kanehara was 19 when she wrote this, a short novella of just 80 pages of three people pulling each other down into co-dependancy, alcohol and consensu
...more
Jackie Wei Chen
I got this book as my bd gift from one of my best friends who thought I always liked weird stories. I finished this book in few hours. It's a very short story to be honest with you it's not as bad as other people said. I would say it has good plot and some little suprises for you while reading it. This is the book that you can read it on the bus or sub or train because it's so easy to understand. It won't have beautiful lit. words because the story is basically describing a random teenage girl. ...more
Natalie
Mar 20, 2007 Natalie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: if you are into piercings and/or s&m, not impressionable teenagers
I'm glad when I was Lui's age all I needed to be "different" was an eyebrow ring. She pushes the envelope on that one after meeting a violent bad boy with a get this, a forked tounge.

So of course she has to have one... the dyed blonde "Barbie Girl" image isn't really doing it for her anymore.

Unemployment, alcoholism, and rough sex ensue, ultimately leading to a murder.

This is the first Japanese fiction I have read (er, actually finished-- this is super short). I'm curious to check out more. Any
...more
Louise B-P
mmmm... que dire... je suis très mitigée sur l'avis que je dois me faire de ce bouquin. Je n'y ai pas trouvé grand intérêt à part la technique de découpe de la langue en deux, c'est dire!

Entre deux descriptions de modifications corporelles, on a droit une scène de sexe, aux malheurs d'une jeune alcoolique et finalement on atterrit sur un crime non résolu.

Je me demande alors comment ce livre a pu avoir autant de succès, peut être l'espoir de se délecter d'un récit "osé" et original.

Avis aux am
...more
D
I saw it won an Akutagawa prize, so I thought, hey why not? But I'm not sure how I feel about this?

Things I found interesting:
1, Subculture in Japan. A limited look at a limited subculture in Japan, but hey, why not.
2, Depiction of a depressed woman in her late teens as it is: the writer doesn't explain it away, doesn't write it off as a result of absentee parents or whatever, doesn't romanticise it.
3, Marginally interesting characters (whether I cared for them or not remains to be seen, but th
...more
Kurt

I picked up this 2004 Akutagawa Prize winning novella in a used bookstore earlier in the week and read it in just over an hour on Saturday. What a bittersweet revelation. For those interested in Japanese literature and/or anything postmodern, Hitomi Kanehara's Snakes and Earrings is a succinct telling of an insignificant little story – one glittering splinter of postmodernism's shattered mirror.

Part punk, part “Barbie-girl” (though she vehemently denies that second categorization), 19 year old L
...more
Lola
... What? It was just so strange. A very short book with little to offer in the way of a plot or character development. Like another person said, this book seemed like it was just there to shock people. The writing wasn't especially bad technically, but it lacked style. You can blame the translator or just assume it has a similar effect in Japanese.

I did like one passage, however, and it was the one thing I found redeeming about the book (other than the pretty cover/binding... bah).

"I guess I t
...more
Amy
(This review contains no spoilers.)

There are a lot of fun little quotes going around on blogs about how dramatically a book can impact us as readers emotionally, but I have to say that, despite how often I reblog quotes like this, I have never actually felt broken by a book until I reached the end of Snakes and Earrings. For such a short novel, Snakes and Earrings is a mesmerizing and painfully gorgeous read that literally left me feeling heartbroken and a little sick.

However, I’d like to prefac
...more
Siina
This was a weird and nasty read - at the same time it was a perfect depiction of sinking to the bottom and survival fighting. I liked the Finnish translation and it didn't take all that much time to read it. The style worked with the distorted image of the book. In a way the open ending worked well too, even though I cannot really stand them. They always seem the easy way out.

Lui is wonderfully fucked up in more ways than one. Her relationship with Ama is just nasty, though it grows into this di
...more
Niina
The brutality of the book surprised me even more than the non-problematized take on sexuality and sex or how simple and clean the life of the female protagonist, Lui, was described - then again, I'm not too familiar with japanese literature and most of my knowledge about the culture is from anime and games, so.. It's clear that the things I consider weaknesses, choices that didn't work for me, and a book that I couldn't like even though I wanted to may well be All Good to some other readers, so ...more
Sahaniza
A lot of explicit content though I never imagine to read a book like how I encounter strangers. This book changes my belief at what a book should be: a long introduction of the characters' past, long explanation of HOW such and such a character behaves, why things turn out to be the way they are.. Just perfect reality escapism. But there you are face to face with life itself, you get to know people who may be in the process of destroying themselves, like Lui, people you love but know nothing abo ...more
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131321
After dropping out of school and living on the streets for some years, Hitomi Kanehara started to write.
Her novels have won several prizes in Japan. The first novel Snakes and Earings won the Akutagawa Prize and the Subaru Prize and it sold a million copies.
More about Hitomi Kanehara...
Autofiction ハイドラ [Hydra] アミービック [Amebic] アッシュベイビー [Ash Baby] 星へ落ちる

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“If you were God, what kind of human would you create?" I asked.

"I wouldn't change how they look. But I would make them as dumb as chickens. So dumb they'd never even imagine the existence of a god.”
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“God has to be a sadist to give people life.” 11 likes
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