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Breasts and Eggs

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  8,288 ratings  ·  1,213 reviews
A New York Times Notable Book (2020)
A TIME Must-Read Book of 2020
An Electric Lit Favorite Novel of 2020
A The Atlantic Best Book of 2020

Kawakami, who exploded into the cultural space first as a musician, then as a poet and popular blogger, and most importantly as a best-selling novelist, challenges every preconception about storytelling and prose style. She is currently on
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published April 7th 2020 by Europa Editions (first published July 11th 2019)
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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 ·  8,288 ratings  ·  1,213 reviews

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Feb 05, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan, feminism
Bodily autonomy is a complex issue, particularly for working-class women existing in a patriarchal society stacked against them. Mieko Kawakami is quickly becoming a new favorite author for me, and Breasts and Eggs is a much-needed and passionate voice of denouncement to the social, literary, and workplace circles of society and their methods of keeping women down through everything from beauty standards to reproductive laws and social stigmas. ‘Women are no longer content to shut up,’ Kawakami ...more
Breasts and Eggs is a strange, moody novel examining womanhood and bodily autonomy. Originally two separate books, it is now published in translation as one novel of two parts.

In ‘Book One’, Natsuko is visited by her sister, Makiko, who has come to Tokyo for a boob job with her preteen daughter in tow. In ‘Book Two’, Natsuko, nearing forty, contemplates having a child via anonymous sperm donation.

Sandwiching these two books together, the resulting novel seems overlong and disjointed. Stylistic
Sam Quixote
Like a lot of novels I started reading Mieko Kawakami’s Breasts and Eggs not knowing much about it but hoping it would be a good ‘un. And I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually really good - up to a point. That point would be after the episode where the main character’s older sister and her daughter come to visit. All that stuff after - about the main character Natsu trying to get pregnant artificially - was ass!

The novel felt so much like two different stories stuck together t
lark benobi
This novel entranced and absorbed me, and disturbed me, too. The story illustrates the corrosive effects of misogyny and poverty on the female body and spirit, and it's so intimately told, and so full of female happenings--the feeling of a sanitary napkin between one's legs, the feeling of dissatisfaction about one's breasts or nipples or skin or some other flaw, the surprise of menstrual blood on a day when it isn't expected--that I frequently had that lovely feeling that only great storytellin ...more
Paul Fulcher
Apr 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: net-galley, 2020
Kawakami Mieko's novella 乳と卵 (Breast and Eggs) won the Akutagawa Prize in Japan in 2007.

In 2019 she published an expanded version, 夏物語 (Summer Story), and it is the longer book that has been translated here under the (it has to be said rather better) initial title by Sam Bett and David Boyd. Further in my review I include some thoughts on the translation.

Essentially this book consists of the original novella (147 pages in translation) and a second part, twice the length, that picks up the story
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-read, japan
English: Breasts and Eggs
This novel has caused quite a stir: With "Breasts and Eggs", Mieko Kawakami (*1976), one of the new female literary stars alongside her countrywomen Sayaka Murata, Yōko Tawada, Hiromi Kawakami et al., has added to the growing number of feminist novels from Japan that discuss the role of women in postmodern society in a blunt, relentless way and in a matter-of-fact tone that adds more bleakness than any melodramatic rendition ever might achieve. Who gets to decide what i
Elyse  Walters
Dec 28, 2020 rated it really liked it by Emily Woo Zeller

The female body is complicated..... let alone our psyche.
Did you know that an unborn child -inside her mother’s womb—has
seven million fertility eggs- more than enough eggs to become pregnant- yet the baby is not even born yet? You didn’t? Well, now you know.

We meet Matsiko and Natsuko.....sisters!
Matsiko ( the older sister, with a daughter named Midoriko who won’t speak at home), wants breast implants.
I found this first section - *breasts-everythin
L.S. Popovich
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mieko Kawakami's novel Breasts and Eggs is a bold literary statement and another first person, modern, feminist novel from Japan. Staking a claim among literary celebrities like Banana Yoshimoto, Hiromi Kawakami, Natsuo Kirino, and Yoko Ogawa, it would almost appear that the future of Japanese Literature is female. It would make sense, in a way, since its past was male though and through with the notable exception of Murasaki's monumental Tale of Genji. I first heard of M. Kawakami when I read h ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami, published in Japan in 2008 and published translated into English in May 2020, is a good reminder of the danger of a single story. A profile of the article in The Guardian five days ago quotes the author as saying, "Japan’s literary universe is still odd, cute and a bit mysterious...But we’re not like that at all. I don’t want to write books that perpetuate that image. I want to write about real people.”

The real people in this book are women - single women - de
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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I was really excited to receive an ARC of this because of the blurb by Haruki Murakami. Don't be fooled by the racy title-- this is a very serious, very dark look at gender norms and expectations for women, tackling topics such as fertility, body image, and gender conformity. Our narrator is a woman in her thirties named Natsuko and the story revolves around her, her sister, Makiko, and her niece, a teenager named Midoriko.

Style-wise, th
/ / / Read more reviews on my blog / / /

disclaimer: this is less a review that a cathartic rant. If you want to read this book I recommend you check out other reviews instead.

Breasts and Eggs was an exceedingly frustrating and overlong novel. My interest in this novel was piqued by its title and the buzz around it. While the first three or four chapters were relatively entertaining, I soon became weary of its critique of gender. If you find it fulfilling to write poems about your menstrual bloo
Jan 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
When Makiko rings her younger sister, Natsuko, to tell her that she is going to get breast implants, Natsuko is slightly puzzled, but her initial response is, fine, whatever you want to do. Maybe she thought that Makiko would lose interest and the topic would just die a natural death. However, when Makiko starts ringing after work about 3 times a week telling her that she has made her mind up and is getting them, she starts to become a little more interested, a little more worried perhaps. Makik ...more
3.5 stars
Mieko Kawakami’s Breasts and Eggs unveils the experiences of “working poor” women and their growing estrangement not only from Japanese patriarchal society but from traditional feminine gender norms. The novel is presented in two parts written at different times, making the read a tad disjointed and scattered with cumbrous and erratic prose. Throughout the book, prose narrative regularly shifts between literary to journalistic.

Kawakami sheds a distinct light on the physical and emotiona
Mieko Kawakami’s novel explores issues that impact on a particular group of Japanese women through the character of Natsuko, a working-class woman, living and working in Tokyo. The piece grew out of an original novella worked and reworked and published in English as one novel although, as a lot of other readers have noted, it has a strangely disjointed quality, like two sections grafted together rather than an entirely coherent whole. In part one Natsuko’s hosting her sister Makiko and niece Mid ...more
May 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book endorsed by Murakami was enough reason for me to want to read this, this author displays her fresh and quirky observations but it doesn’t diminish the seriousness of the topics discussed, it tackles many female specific issues, a true exploration of the female mind and body, it addresses the obsession with body image, it covers all the intricacies of fertility, reproduction and the ethics of artificial insemination hence the apt reference to the book title Breasts and Eggs.

I thoroughly e
Roman Clodia
Are women more than their bodies? Seems not, according to much contemporary fiction. Here three women's identities are bound up with a) breast augmentation, b) first periods, and c) pregnancy. What gives this interest is the Tokyo setting and the fact that these women are working class. Oh, and the almost gleeful physical details - bleached nipples for the right aesthetics? No thanks!
I enjoyed this well enough as a light read but it doesn't push the boundaries like, say, The Vegetarian.
Sheree | Keeping Up With The Penguins
It’s not every day you come across a book recommended by Haruki Murakami (in fact, I think this might be the first I’ve ever read). What really shines is Kawakami’s eye for the mundane – the grocery shopping, the weather, the features of a flat – and her razor-sharp insight into the pressures women face, in Japan and everywhere. It would seem that some of the nuances of Osaka dialect are lost in translation, but Breasts And Eggs nonetheless remains a riveting and revelatory read in English.

An e
Jun 04, 2020 rated it really liked it

I ABSOLUTELY loved the first section of this book, but once it got into “book 2” aka the section Kawakami added to make this a full length novel, I found it started just getting way too long, repetitive, and loosing focus. I also found myself constantly questioning half of what the characters were saying cause I blatantly disagree with them - and while I can normally have differing views than characters, this just went on and on for hundreds of pages and many arguments simply didn’t m
Portal in the Pages
Nov 22, 2020 rated it did not like it
I ended up DNFing this one. I just didn't connect with the characters at all. ...more
Amy Gentry
The book I had in mind wasn't supposed to be autobiographical, but whenever I felt stuck, or told myself I couldn't even form a decent sentence, these thoughts and feelings started pouring in. Perhaps these memories were obstacles that I could never overcome. I still don't know.

Trying to describe BREASTS AND EGGS to people while I was reading it, I found myself reaching for Elena Ferrante as a point of comparison, even though they're nothing alike. There's nothing here of the propulsive ener
Kamila Kunda
Sep 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, japan, own, asia
I must say I hesitated before reaching for “Breasts and Eggs” by Mieko Kawakami. I worried that reading about a woman, having strong aversion to sex and researching artificial insemination in a desperate wish to have a child and about her sister obsessed about getting breast implants would be stepping too much out of my comfort zone. However, positive opinions of a few Instagrammers whose opinions I trust convinced me to give it a go and I’m very pleased I did.

Since time immemorial most women al
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
Apr 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was everything I wanted MOTHERHOOD by Sheila Heti to be (and what it didn’t deliver on, for me), and it went that extra mile with some of the thematic exploration that I thought Miranda Popkey’s TOPICS OF CONVERSATION touched on. Essentially, this explores female identity in contemporary Japan - while motherhood is a central theme, and consumes most of the latter half of the novel, it also looks at body image and physicality and sexuality. I found my reading slow in the first part (the init ...more
Abbie | ab_reads
(#gifted @picadorbooks) I only found out after finishing this book that Book One (Breasts, so to speak) had been published on its own as a novella, with Kawakami then expanding on the story, focusing more on one character, in Book Two (Eggs). This is set 10 years later and follows Natsuko's desire to have a child, while remaining single and averse to sex.

I LOVE narratives about motherhood, the more unconventional the better, so Natsuko's quest to have a child using a sperm donor, which is not a
Feb 28, 2020 added it
Breasts and Eggs had two things going for it – well, make that three. It was blurbed by Haruki Murakami, one of my favorite authors, who said it “took his breath away.” It was focused on the story of three women—two sisters and the daughter of one woman—drilling down to their feelings on breast augmentation, reproduction (eggs) and the female body. And oh yes, it was published by Europa Editions, one of my favorite publishing houses.

I wanted to connect; I expected to connect. But despite the acc
Richa Bhattarai
Oct 06, 2020 rated it liked it
“Why are books by Japanese authors so sad?” I texted my landlady Yoko.

“Because the ones which get translated are the sad ones—it attracts the English (speaking) audience, I suppose,” she answered.

I was in the midst of reading Breasts and Eggs, by Mieko Kawakami, and the constant despair of the protagonists had seeped into me. Originally published as a novella, Breasts and Eggs took 12 years to be expanded, and then translated, into its current form. It incorporates two distinct yet interrelated
Erin Glover
Jul 26, 2020 rated it liked it
This story, translated from Japanese, is essentially one of women. Natsuko, the protagonist, is unmarried and unable to have sex. She is obsessed with artificial insemination to have a child. She meets a group of people who feel artificial insemination should not be allowed if the child does not get a chance to know the sperm donor. Kawakami takes us on a wild ride asking whether anyone has a right to have a child who may experience only pain in life, versus what it means to be a woman.

Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The beauty of this novel is in the minutiae of Natsume’s everyday life in Japan. The writing is lush and real, but somehow covered in a slight haze like that of a late summer evening. While reading there is a sort of surreal transportation of the reader that evokes the feeling of hovering fly on the wall style over Natsu as she goes about her life. The internal dialog is fascinating.

It is easy to see why Murakami is a big fan.
Chris Haak
Jul 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel explores womanhood in general and in Japan in particular very well: body image, relationships, motherhood etc. It also describes modern Japan excellently, I think (though to be honest I can't really have an expert opinion on this as I've never even been to Japan).
I loved the writing style of this novel a lot. It got me into a flow and kept me reading even though not much was really happening. I was pleasantly surprised :-)
Thank you Pan Macmillan and Netgalley for the Arc
Francesca Calarco
Dec 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
It’s safe to say that if Haruki Murakami endorses a book, I basically have no choice but to read it. That, and my book club chose it, so that is how I came to read Mieko Kawakami’s Breasts and Eggs. If you want to read a surreal tale interlaced with social commentary on gender issues, then this is a pretty solid pick.

This book occurs in two parts. The first is a novella (published a decade earlier) that introduces the main character (and author) Natusko and details some time she spends with her
May 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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Mieko Kawakami (川上未映子, born in August 29, 1976) is a Japanese singer and writer from Osaka.

She was awarded the 138th Akutagawa Prize for promising new writers of serious fiction (2007) for her novel Chichi to Ran (乳と卵) (Breasts and Eggs).

Kawakami has released three albums and three singles as a singer.

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