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The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P

3.56  ·  Rating Details  ·  127 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P is a highly acclaimed work of fiction that won Japans most prestigious literary prize for women writers. A provocative, picaresque spin on a coming-of-age story, the novel tells of a young Japanese woman who wakes up one afternoon to discover that her big toe has turned into a penis. In learning to adjust to her new sexual organ, the heroine ...more
Hardcover, 447 pages
Published January 1st 2010 by Kodansha (first published 1993)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 424)
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Kyle Muntz
Dec 25, 2014 Kyle Muntz rated it it was amazing
The main thing to know about this is the premise: Matsuura takes some cues from Kafka's metamorphasis, but instead of Gregor Samsa waking up as an insect, a young Japanese woman wakes up and her big toe has turned into a penis. When her homophobic boyfriend (who feels initially disgusted by her toe-penis, then eventually threatened by its size now that he sees her as a "man") tries to chop it off, she leaves him to go on a (mostly sexual) journey of self-discovery, which begins with a blind pian ...more
Jun 14, 2010 Jamie rated it really liked it
This book caught my eye when I was importing the catalog record from OCLC. The subject code 650 was Penis fiction. Intrigued, I read the dust jacket, which described this as a tale of a young woman who wakes up one morning to find her big toe has become a penis. This creates many changes in her life, and she sets off exploring her sexuality and learns quite a bit about herself in the process.

I really enjoyed this bizarre novel. Warning: it's not the kind of book you want to read while eating foo
Valette Keller
May 24, 2010 Valette Keller rated it it was ok
I grabbed this book at the library book sale, intrigued by the premise of waking up with a penis for a big toe. As one character puts it, "If you change your body, your state of mind changes." This theme is repeated through many characters: the main character with her new toe penis, a M-to-F transgender, a man with an extra penis, and a blind man. The story challenges traditional sexual and gender roles and preconceptions. But instead of demonstrating this through the story, the majority of the ...more
Feb 26, 2010 A rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2010
Translated from the Japanese original "How to Extoll the Virtues of Fingerbanging in the Most Un-Fun Way Possible." Yes, this really IS a book about a woman whose toe becomes a penis, leading her to join a traveling Geek Love-style freaky sex show. But those expecting Katherine Dunn's (or even Haruki Murakami's) patentedly queasy mix of titillation, repulsion, and emotion should look elsewhere. Though each sentence just thrums with deviancy and sex shenanigans, this is NOT erotica, and at times ...more
Ere K.
Più che un romanzo sull'omosessualità o sulle devianze, o su qualunque altro termine stravagante possa venire in mente ai più, credo che questo sia un libro sulla liberazione da una certa idea di sessualità. Quella comune e trita, quella che è "così" perché "deve essere così", orientamento sessuale a prescindere. Non che si debba tutti provare ad entrare in un circo bizzarro pieno di fenomeni da baraccone, nel quale il sesso viene messo su un palcoscenico per il piacere di un pubblico che gode d ...more
Apr 14, 2010 morbidflight rated it really liked it
Shelves: eas-344, japan, feminist
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 19, 2011 Stefania rated it liked it
This is a very bizarre novel!! But I really liked it!
It is about a young woman who wakes up one normal morning to find a penis instead of her big toe! From then on her normal mundane sex life as well as her whole life take out an abnormal path! Her life starts revolving around strange sexual encounters. She befriends the Flower Show which is made up of people who also suffer from sexual abnormalities. Although this book is about sex and penises it rarely does anything to get the reader in the m
Feb 10, 2010 Louis rated it liked it
Shelves: japanese
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Natalie Jaeger
Jan 17, 2015 Natalie Jaeger rated it really liked it
What can I say about this book? It's a story about a girl whose big toe turns into a penis. Having the sense of humor of a 13 year old boy, I thought this was going to be hilarious. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by its deep and abiding pathos and the questions it raises about sexual identity and gender perception. n.b. if you have any qualms about sex and or deformities this book is not for you. It is odd. It is perverse. It is Japanese.
Jesse Baker
Oct 01, 2010 Jesse Baker rated it liked it
Say Gregor Samsa awoke that morning not as a cockroach but as a young, mild-mannered, Japanese woman, wholly unremarkable except that the big toe on her right foot transformed overnight into a penis—so she flees her homophobic fiancé, falls in love with a bisexual blind pianist and joins a troupe of sexually deformed misfits whose live performances conjure images of Sade and Bataille. Yet somehow this occurs within a sweetly unsentimental bildungsroman that reads more like Francine Prose than Ka ...more
Jan 31, 2010 kate rated it did not like it
i got about halfway through before matsuura's transphobia & unyielding, outdated approach to gender became wholly intolerable. a shame, though -- i was pretty excited about this book. the premise is interesting enough: a young woman wakes up one day & realizes that one of her big toes has been transformed into a penis. i've been pretty obsessed lately with the concept of the phallus, so i was willing to forgive the book's wooden prose & plodding pace. then the protagonist joins a per ...more
Jul 23, 2010 Wyatt rated it really liked it
I made it through Big Toe P without feeling disappointed. It was odd/steamy enough to keep me intrigued yet it was also exploratory in the sense that the overall tone and presentation of the book felt (appropriately) foreign. The surreal premise was matched by a ever- rational, almost draining play-by-play--a moment-to-moment update of the characters' dynamics of mutual attractions, conflicts, etc. I'm sure that there is a cultural underpinning to her tight adherence her mode of writing I hope t ...more
Mar 13, 2015 Joni rated it liked it
Woman wakes up with a penis where her big toe should be. Interesting and comedic way to explore many gender issues. Unfortunately this is way too long (422 pages) and it's a mess.
Lori Botterman
Jun 22, 2010 Lori Botterman rated it liked it
Crazy -- part erotic, part social commentary. I'm not at all sure who I would recommend this to. A story of a young Japanese woman who wakes up to find her big toe has become a functioning penis is just not for everyone. Hidden in the bizarre story are some insights into sexuality and relationships that take this beyond erotica.
Ana Silva Rosa
Feb 16, 2013 Ana Silva Rosa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012, amazing
Prose style: 5
Plot: 5
Depth of characters: 5
Originality: 5
Entertaining: 5
Emotional Reaction: 5
Intellectual Stimulation: 4

I want to re-read it. And then re-read again. And re-read it, and re-read it a thousand times. I'm so attached to this book. It was the first book I fell in love with.
Feb 23, 2010 Oriana marked it as to-read
from the McNally Jackson site: The novel is a strange exploration of gender and control, the premise being simply that a woman wakes up to discover that one of her toes has become a penis. Yes, that is correct. It reads like a more sexually engaged Murakami, and is funny, too.

OMG what??
2.5 stars, I suppose. It wasn't a good book, but it wasn't too bad either. It could have been much better. One way or another, I will definitely remember it.

If you like weird books then this is one for your bucket list.
Apr 08, 2010 Robin marked it as to-read
I'm not sure I'll ever actually read this since I skimmed this on my lunch hour, but how can I resist adding a book to my list about a young woman who wakes up to find her big toe has turned into a penis?
Aug 21, 2011 Roberta rated it liked it
Has the particular, somewhat aloof style of writing I've noted in most of post-modern Japanese literature (at least in translation). Certainly an interesting premise and a curious setting.
Jenielle Herrera
Dec 03, 2013 Jenielle Herrera marked it as to-read
(borrowing this as soon as i get membership access to the japan foundation library: this is just TOO bizarre!!!)
May 18, 2010 Robotchris rated it really liked it
A really different kind of coming age book that also deals with love and sex and everything in between.
Dec 29, 2012 Matthew rated it really liked it
strange combination of the outlandish and the prosaic
Nov 06, 2010 joshua rated it it was ok
starts off great...
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Rieko Matsuura (松浦 理恵子) was born on August 7, 1958 inMatsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, Japan.

She studied at Aoyama Gakuin University of Liberal Arts and is a postmodern novelist.

She went from Marugame West Middle School to Kagawa Prefecture Otemae Middle School, a private school in the area. Matsuura attended Aoyama Gakuin University where she majored in French literature. In her teens, she had read Ma
More about Rieko Matsuura...

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