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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  10,467 ratings  ·  1,221 reviews
Natsuo Kirino's novel tells a story of random violence in the staid Tokyo suburbs, as a young mother who works a night shift making boxed lunches brutally strangles her deadbeat husband and then seeks the help of her co-workers to dispose of the body and cover up her crime.

The ringleader of this cover-up, Masako Katori, emerges as the emotional heart of Out and as one of t

Paperback, 1st Edition, 400 pages
Published January 4th 2005 by Vintage (first published 1997)
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Shannon (Giraffe Days)
There's just something about Japan that produces the grittiest, darkest, scariest, most realistic horror, psychological thriller, and suspense. The seedy underbelly of Japanese society is perhaps so successfully portrayed because so little has been embellished. And with the dark, empty surburban streets, so much is possible, so much can go unnoticed. In Natsuo Kirino's wonderful crime novel, Out, a sharp social commentary on Japan's patriarchal society and the situation for women and foreigners...more
Apr 18, 2009 Yulia rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Yulia by: Frank Bogues
A literary page-turner as timely as when it first came out, this biting critique of Japan's social and economic underclass begins when three female co-workers are forced to confront the act of a friend against her abusive husband, but evolves into a blistering exposé on those whose stories are never told: the unseen night-shift factory workers who make Japan's endless supply of box lunches; women who are swamped in credit-card debt but cannot live off their looks, youth, or father's paychecks as...more
What a disappointing ending! At first, I was absolutely entralled by the characters and their various relationships. The first 3/4ths of the book are filled with so much texture - it felt like I was running my hands through a fabric store. Most intriguing are the female-female relationships ranging from trust to need to fear. How I hated Kuniko! How I rooted for Masako!

And then, this whole S&M dark and violent erotic stuff comes out, which threw the entire book in downward-spiral away from n...more
Mike Philbin
Masako Katori; Kuniko Jonouchi; Yoshie Azuma; Yayoi Yamamoto; who are these normal people? Well, they all work the night shift at the local boxed-lunch factory. From midnight until 6 a.m. every 'day' they prepare these meals for the office workers and commuters of downtown Tokyo. It's not much of a life but they work well as a team and they always snatch the best part of the conveyor belt; the easiest jobs, if you will.

These four unassuming women are the heroines of Natsuo Kirino's novel OUT, wi...more
Out by Natsuo Kirino is a brilliant Japanese murder mystery that’s not much of a mystery at all, at least not a mystery in the sense that we don’t know whodunit. Whodunit is a pretty, young wife and mother of two named Yayoi who is fed up with her husband Kenji’s philandering ways, and decides to strangle him one night in an uncharacteristic moment of rage. Assured that her children heard nothing of the struggle, she calls a friend who works the night shift with her at a boxed lunch factory. As...more
I wanted to like this one more than I actually did like it. The beginning of the story, learning about Yayoi, Yoshie, Masako, and Kuniko was interesting, and the death and immediate aftermath was interesting, but I just found myself losing interest shortly after that, and struggled to finish.

I think that this book would work for a lot of people, but I found it kind of disappointing. I found it hard to connect with these characters. I kept thinking how I would react and act and think differently...more
When I caught the words “hard-boiled” on this book’s back cover before reading it, can’t lie: I was less than enthused. During my embarrassingly long mystery-novel obsession, I’ve pinpointed my favorite kind quite precisely – cerebral social comedies, preferably written by British women between 1915 and ~1965, with levels of gore not to exceed your occasional poisoned crumpet.

Out is not that. Out is not even on the same planet as that, and yet it grabbed me by the shoulders and shook, hard, unt...more
Patrizia O
“[…] abbiamo cominciato solo perché odiavamo i nostri padri, o la nostra patria, il Giappone – non è così? Voglio dire che siamo tutti figli perduti, outsider ai margini della società”

Il titolo originale “Out” sicuramente esprime meglio l’essenza di questo romanzo: i protagonisti sono tutti personaggi ai margini della rigida e misogina società giapponese.
Per le donne non è semplice riuscire a farsi valere soprattutto se pretendono, in casa come sul lavoro, lo stesso trattamento riservato agl...more
Jul 05, 2007 Angela rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: People who like FREAKY stuff
Shelves: japanese-authors
This book is full of amazingly WRONG situations and I thought it was amazing.


I may have thought it was amazing because I have lived in Japan for nearly three years and I felt like I could identify with the characters. I picked up on cultural subtleties that made me laugh and made me cringe. I rolled my eyes at Japanese women being Japanese women in the book and I cheered when they broke free from that mould - even though breaking free meant that they were ostracized from society and th...more
Read this book for the scene in the bento factory alone. Just do, and you'll never again eat a bento in Japan without thinking of it! This is the side of Japan the Japanese media never show! The Japanophiles with their obsession with tea ceremony, flower arrangement, anime, manga, samurai, ninja, clothing... this is yet another face of Japan and Natsuo Kirino does it wonderfully. Wage is low in a country that has some of the highest living standard costs in the world. The economy isn't kind to i...more
Barks & Bites
This is a great book about a group of late shift female co-workers at a boxed lunch factory. It is extremely effective in portraying the desperation in their day to day lives and shows how even the most gruesome of deeds can become just another yucky job if the pay is good enough. It's so violent that, at times, it's almost funny and still very sad and frighteningly realistic as well. This was one of those impossible to put down books but it isn't for the faint of heart as it gets quite grisly.
A gruesome, fascinating page-turner about working class Japanese women and their desperation. The insight into the characters' psyches is brilliant. I didn't particularly like the way it ended--I thought the way Masako ended up relating to Satake was a bit over the top and not so believable--and there were parts that were so gory I felt nauseous, but overall it was a very satisfying read. (Thanks, Jill!)
This is another book I gave up on halfway through. In fairness, the climactic ending of a thriller is probably pretty important to your sense of how good the book is and having not read that part, maybe I am missing out on the brilliance somehow. But leading up to that finale, I thought the writing was pretty terrible.

In theory, it should be exactly the sort of thing I'm really into. A feminist, Japanese crime novel? Sounds great, right? And for some reason a lot of the major mainstream critics...more
Che cosa scabrosa, che cosa scabrosa..

(Perché gli do 5? Perché non ho nessun motivo per dargli di meno).

Questo libro è stato un woha. Credo di dover cominciare dal principio a raccontare la mia vicenda personale legata a Le quattro casalinghe di Tokyo.
Un bel pomeriggio di metà Dicembre mia madre sbuca in camera mia con un piccolo bottino di libri appena diventati orfani, e che cercano disperatamente una mammina che li accudisca: questi sono Tess d'Urberville, Mansfield Park e Le quattro casaling...more
Oct 21, 2013 Ally rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: crime fans, Japanese fans, people who like anti-heroes
This is my favorite book. I almost didn't finish reading it, because the beginning is rather boring and bleak. I set it aside for a year, but after reading more good things about the author, I picked it up again and I am so glad I did!
From the perspective of an American reader, this book is refreshingly different from the usual crime novel. There are no completely "good" or "bad" characters, only those you root for and against. And by the end, some of that might change a little. Kirino does an e...more
Natsuo Kirino is hard-core. This book starts out with a kind've "accidental" murder of a husband, then the wife asks her three factory buddies to help her out with getting rid of the body and coming up with a story. You ever want to know how to slice and dice somebody, there's an awful lot of detail in here. But the point is, it's 4 very different women trying to deal with that, and then the fall-out. Kirino gives you a snapshot of the gender roles in Japanese society, and what's roiling around...more
this book was interesting on a national level, as well as a personal level. women doing a man's work for a lower price and incurring man's wrath. sexism in the work place, eastern style. the fixation on youth. and it was a fast, exciting read! the characters were relatable. i KNOW kuniko. the only part that lost me was the very end. if somebody can break this down for me i would make them 10 bento boxes.
Una storia estrema, cinica, nichilista, violenta, splatter e a tratti irritante, questo è il modo della Kirino per prenderti a schiaffi e mostrarti una condizione umana e sociale che forse non vuoi vedere, e un Giappone che forse non ti aspetti.
La sua è una denuncia della società, aspra e tagliente, senza giri di parole, una denuncia che la porta a scavare nei meandri dell’animo umano fino a rivelarne i lati oscuri e a dipingere un mondo in cui ogni felicità sembra bandita, un mondo pervaso da...more
Black Elephants
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Nov 11, 2007 Katie rated it 1 of 5 stars Recommends it for: No One
Although this book is the same genre as many books I've enjoyed, I found it to be terribly boring. Since it was an award-winner in Japan, I'm betting the laborous writing style was more a product of the translation than the writing itself. In other words, the writing in the original Japanese was probably very well done, and the translator did his job of putting it into readable English, but it didn't flow as well as novels written in English. The words may have been a correct translation, but th...more
Nicole Miller
A Japanese suspense/mystery. Boy. Quite different than any American suspense/mystery I've read (which, granted, aren't many). I was surprised at the graphic nature of it, more so because it was written by a Japanese woman--it just seems so against the stereotype that we are made to believe in. I also found it hard to get involved in any of the characters--I didn't feel one way or another towards them. I don't know if it is the translation aspect or just this style of writing, but it was very non...more
This book is about women in Japan, living in robotic obligation towards their homes, families and workplaces. They are ignored by their husbands, mistreated by their own children and even dismissed by the police. But it's also one of the most brutal and visceral books I've ever read. Natsuo Kirino does not mess around. She could could Stephen King a real run for his money, and without any fantasy whatsoever. If you dig horror and suspense and a good story with good characters, this book is a mus...more
Maria João Fernandes
"Porque o destino é o que lhe acontece apesar de todos os seus planos."

Quatro mulheres trabalham juntas, no turno da noite, numa fábrica de refeições pré-embaladas. Cada uma delas, por razões diferentes, está insatisfeita com a sua vida: desilusões com os maridos, filhos ingratos, dividas, familiares problemáticos. O trabalho é difícil e as mulheres encontram conforto no seu pequeno grupo.

Masako é uma líder nata e é ela quem toma todas as decisões; Yayoi é jovem e bonita, cuja inocência a proteg...more
A great experience. It's perfect. A classic.
The storytelling is extra good and the plot very original, noirer than noir with every thread in it perfectly hatched. The fact the author is a japanese woman and the action is set in Tokyo adds also a new perspective in relation to other crime novels. You'll find yakuza, gambling, loan sharks, prostitutes, blood, vengeance and crime, but all of those contrasts with the fact the main characters are four housewives from which point of view most of the...more
It took me about three months to read this novel. For those who know my reading habits, you will be aware that I read fast. Inordinately fast, I am told. The reason for my lagging pace where this book is concerned was not because it was so bad I couldn’t make myself read it, it was because the novel was a bit too realistic, it sucked me in a bit too deeply – enough anyway that I had to put it down, recover and then resume reading. So from the synopsis you will know that four women work the night...more
Jul 02, 2008 Valerie rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: cast-iron stomachs
Recommended to Valerie by: Kat, PrimeTime
Out contains some truly gruesome passages, and having finished it quickly, I was trying to decide whether I was more affected by the bloody bits or by the banal--but nevertheless gruesome--bits regarding everyday life in Japan. But as the days go by, I find my memory of the gruesome passages has faded almost entirely and I'm left with feeling depressed by the despairing conditions she depicts of everyday life under capitalism.

That's right--everyone else will talk about the gender relations held...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Four women from a factory producing packed lunches help a coworker who murders her husband. I am not giving too much away here because it’s only the beginning of a whole lot of bizarre twists and turns. The plot is engaging and it keeps one reading until the end, but ultimately it seems to be much more than just crime fiction. It's a book on the darker side of human nature as well as Japanese society, and a commentary on the position of women there. Besides being a psychological thriller, the bo...more
Out marked my attempt to penetrate the world of crime fiction. I found it while browsing the bestsellers section of my local bookstore and picked it up mostly because of my interest in Japanese authors.

While I can't say it made me huge fan of the crime genre, I did find the book to have a cast of interesting characters- in particular Matsuko and Kuniko. Kuniko proved to be the most well developed (and, curiously enough, the most loathsome person even amongst rapists and murderers) character. At...more
Unlike anything I've ever read before, and I almost stopped reading it at a few points. First, the opening chapters were hard to follow with all the foreign names and descriptions of their boring job and boring lives. But when that's all over, things get really interesting, intense, and downright shocking at times. The beginning just sets it all up so you have an understanding of why these people acted like they did later on after one of the 4 female "friends" impulsively strangles her husband a...more
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NATSUO KIRINO, born in 1951 in Kanazawa (Ishikawa Prefecture) was an active and spirited child brought up between her two brothers, one being six years older and the other five years younger than her. Kirino's father, being an architect, took the family to many cities, and Kirino spent her youth in Sendai, Sapporo, and finally settled in Tokyo when she was fourteen, which is where she has been res...more
More about Natsuo Kirino...
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“When stones lying warm in the sun were turned over, they exposed the cold, damp earth underneath; and that was where Masako had burrowed deep. There was no trace of warmth in this dark earth, yet for a bug curled up tight in it, it was a peaceful and familiar world.” 6 likes
“I want to go home.' The moment the smell hit her, the words came into her head. She didn't know exactly what home it was she wanted to go to, certainly not the one she'd just left. But why didn't she want to go back there? And where did she want to go? She felt lost.” 3 likes
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