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Snakes and Earrings

3.18  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,836 Ratings  ·  305 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

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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Nov 11, 2014 Shannon rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one, even people i dislike
Shelves: festival-of-suck
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
Oct 15, 2010 Caroline rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 15, 2007 Michaela rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
May 13, 2013 David rated it did not like it
Shelves: bullshit
Sep 02, 2010 Britt☮ rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Britt☮ by: Ingrid E
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 11, 2007 Debbie rated it it was ok
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
Кремена Михайлова
Странно защо този път не си помислих „Ах, тези японци“. Не зная какво ме накара да си кажа, че подобни среди (и извращения) има почти навсякъде по света. Подобно носене по течението на млади момичета май не е само японско. Пънкари, татуисти; алкохолици, депресари; садисти, мазохисти – не са запазени „категории“ за съвременна Япония (няма да спомена най-тежката непростима и непоправима „категория“). Може би видях типичното японско отношение към секса, към смъртта. Диалозите също ми се струват тип ...more
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
Mar 04, 2008 Mark rated it did not like it  ·  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
Mar 18, 2012 randy rated it did not like it
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
Philippe Malzieu
Aug 01, 2014 Philippe Malzieu rated it did not like it
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
Short, extremely well written (and translated obviously) and very compelling in a way a train wreck is; describing an amoral brutal world of young Tokyo underground, where casual violence, drinking, body mods from the milder to the extreme and a day to day approach to life that leads nowhere, I can see why it won the prestigious Akutagawa prize and sold 1 million plus copies in Japan as well as being translated and reviewed in the English speaking world so well

not for the squeamish, though not a
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,
Feb 25, 2009 Toru rated it really liked it
"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."
This was my first encount
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
May 21, 2013 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
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
Apr 23, 2013 Bjorn rated it liked it
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
Feb 06, 2010 Nikita rated it it was ok  ·  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
Jan 15, 2012 Dilyana Georgieva rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese
"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
Dec 13, 2015 Elvie rated it it was amazing
Yes, the book is not likely to become classic, it does not bear any strong meaning or something. For most people this is more than enough to hate it and that, I believe, is totally okay with me.
For me, this little book simply describes the small world of this kind of people that I do not even know how to label, you know, the ones who are so much into body art and look kind of scary to the rest of the world. The main character, as confused as she was, was nothing more than a new member in this l
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.
Celeste Chia
Jun 19, 2015 Celeste Chia rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 27, 2014 Kurt rated it really liked it

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
Nov 11, 2008 Brian rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2008, asian
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
Maria João Fernandes
Uma história invulgar sobre uma rapariga não tão invulgar assim. Na procura de um sentido de realização pessoal e de relação com os outros, Lui anda à deriva num mundo que é e não é seu.

Como bóia de salvamento, a jovem de 19 anos deixa-se levar pela transformação corporal, que a torna mais completa e mais sua. A confiança das suas acções não é constante, tal como não são os fios que a unem ao namorado e companheiro.

A verdade é que, como acontece a maior parte das vezes, seja aqui ou no mundo rea
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
Jun 21, 2016 Darcy rated it did not like it
Considering this won prestigious awards in Japan, I'm assuming the English translator should be shot (figuratively speaking). Shame.
Jenny H
May 04, 2016 Jenny H rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Speciell och annorlunda. Riktigt bra. Tunn och kort bok, men väldigt bra. Även om jag själv aldrig någonsin skulle kunna tänka mig att pierca mig själv (annat än hål i örat).
Mar 20, 2007 Natalie rated it liked it
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
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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...

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“God has to be a sadist to give people life.” 14 likes
“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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