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In the Miso Soup

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3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  8,383 ratings  ·  637 reviews
It is just before New Year's. Frank, an overweight American tourist, has hired Kenji to take him on a guided tour of Tokyo's sleazy nightlife on three successive evenings. But Frank's behavior is so strange that Kenji begins to entertain a horrible suspicion: that his new client is in fact the serial killer currently terrorizing the city. It isn't until the second night, h ...more
Hardcover, 180 pages
Published December 18th 2003 by Kodansha International (first published 1997)
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(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
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
Paul Bryant
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
Anthony Vacca
I’ve always thought there was something to be said about the strange fascination that American and Japanese culture share with one another. Maybe one of my peers, guilty too of shamelessly mythologizing the East (since we Americans are without the millennial long view of a mythology, or rather what myths there were to be had those first settlers rubbed out with the natives) will put together the defining treatise on the matter. If so in my lifetime, then that author already has themselves one re ...more
Jaidee

4.5 "chilling, existential and misanthropic" stars.

This book was given to me by my partner as I am waiting for Ms. Alice Munro's "Dear Life: Stories." from the library. I was very wary when he gave this to me because I do not like gratuitous violence that leaves one feeling desensitized or empty.

This little novel was so much more though. It was a foray into the interactions between a lost young Japanese Man and a middle aged American psychopath so intelligent and cunning as they explore the red
...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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Courtney
Nov 09, 2008 Courtney added it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Ana
Too strange to try and describe, but if you like weird psychological insights into psychos with a bit of gore thrown in the mix, then you might like it.
Ashita Thakur
"it was a darned peculiar kind of soup, the smell it had and everything, so I didn’t eat it, but it intrigued me. It had that funny brown color and smelled kind of like human sweat, but it also looked delicate and refined somehow. I came to this country hoping to find out what the people who eat that soup on a daily basis might be like."

I feel the same. Yes i do. Oh Japan. The land of all that is wonderful, exciting, creepy and gory.

The graphic violence in this is just plain gross and horrif
...more
Sabrina
This is a really interesting thriller. Not at all what I had expected, and the last third definitely saved this book from a lower score. Definitely not for the weak stomached because of extremely graphic violence. This is a book about a Japanese man guiding an American into the seedy underbelly of Japan's commercial district, Shinjuku, also known as Kabukicho and Murakami provides a much more cynical perspective on both Japanese and American cultures than you normally see in Japanese fiction. Mo ...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
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
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
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
Kate
Feb 16, 2012 Kate rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Estelle
I remember reading this book many years ago, back when I was living in France. Despite its content, it didn't stop me from moving to Tokyo.
"In the Miso Soup" is very graphic, violent, and at times downright scary. The kind of book that makes you want to take a shower after finishing it. That said, I absolutely loved it! The writing is excellent, and the description of Tokyo's red light district (Kabukicho) is still very vivid in my mind. But the real strength of the books lies in the relationshi
...more
Jim
Offbeat and intriguing, this suspenseful story of Tokyo's sex trade district takes a disturbing turn about halfway through, though what has gone before is rather disturbing itself. The tale of a sexual tour guide who begins to believe his client is a serial killer erupts into a nightmare that at once staggers the imagination and beggars credibility. The view of Japan's sleazy sexual underworld is more interesting than the bizarre monster at the center of the book.
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.

Srividya
One very intense book, an intensity of which kind I have not encountered before. Is it a horror story? Or is it a murder story? Or even more interestingly is it an analysis of human psyche through the world of murder and horror? I honestly cannot tell you what it is because at present I am overwhelmed with this story and the intensity of the book.

Like most Japanese 'horror' novels or stories that I have read or seen (as in movies), this one starts on a really benign note. 'Benign' - this word se
...more
Ana Luković
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 responsible 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 tourist who
...more
Sonia O'Brien
May 12, 2011 Sonia O'Brien rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Randee
Talk about anticlimatic... The first half of the book I would give 4 stars but the last half would get 2, unfortunately. It starts out like gangbusters with an interesting idea. A sex tour guide is hired by an American to experience the 'underbelly' of Japanese night life: sex shows/clubs, etc. As the first night wears on, Kenji (I love the name Kenji--one of my favorite Japanese names along with Ruki, Tetsuya and Kai) begins to suspect that his American client is a serial murderer. The tension ...more
Andrew
My first foray into the writings of the other Murakami turn out to be a sterling success. What starts as a less-than-ideal holiday season turns into escalating violence, insanity, depravity, a thinner and thinner line between fantasy and reality, and a great many keen observations on Japanese and American society in the process. A lot of people are going to find the ending somewhat deflated, but given the set-up, he'd either have to end the novel on an orgiastic note (boring, predictable) or som ...more
sanny
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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Ryū Murakami (村上 龍) 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 ob
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More about Ryū Murakami...
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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.” 88 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” 50 likes
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