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Breasts and Eggs

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  3,034 ratings  ·  477 reviews

So amazing it took my breath away' Haruki Murakami, international bestselling author of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles

Breasts and Eggs explores the inner conflicts of an adolescent girl who refuses to communicate with her mother except through writing. Through the story of these women, Kawakami paints a portrait of womanhood in contemporary Japan, probing questions of gender

Kindle Edition
Published April 28th 2020 by Picador (first published 2008)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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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.
Sam Quixote
Like a lot of novels I started reading Mieko Kawakamis 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 characters 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 that
Paul Fulcher
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
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 ...more
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan, 2020-read
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
Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ 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, this
L.S. Popovich
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 ...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, "Japans literary universe is still odd, cute and a bit mysterious...But were not like that at all. I dont 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 -
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
Its not every day you come across a book recommended by Haruki Murakami (in fact, I think this might be the first Ive ever read). What really shines is Kawakamis 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.

Jun 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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 didnt make
Portal in the Pages
I ended up DNFing this one. I just didn't connect with the characters at all.
Kamila Kunda
Sep 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, japan, fiction, 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 Im very pleased I did.

Since time immemorial most women all
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 energy
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 doesnt 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
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
This was everything I wanted MOTHERHOOD by Sheila Heti to be (and what it didnt deliver on, for me), and it went that extra mile with some of the thematic exploration that I thought Miranda Popkeys 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 ...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
Erin Glover
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.

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 womentwo sisters and the daughter of one womandrilling 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
Chris Via
Review now available in Rain Taxi Review of Books: Volume 25, Number 3 Fall 2020 (#99)
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
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The beauty of this novel is in the minutiae of Natsumes 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.
In her much-celebrated novel, Breasts and Eggs, the principal character, Natsuko, asks some rudimentary questions.

Does blood coming out of your body make you a woman? A potential mother? What makes that so great anyway?

Whats the secret to long life?

Whats it mean to hurt, anyway?

Natsuko is single and in her late 30s with no inclination to follow the rest of her peers in settling down. In the first part of the book, she watches her sister Makiko go through the struggles of being a single parent as
Richa Bhattarai
Why are books by Japanese authors so sad? I texted my landlady Yoko.

Because the ones which get translated are the sad onesit 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
Joe M
May 09, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan, read-in-2020
I picked this up when I saw the Murakami blurb, which I'm glad caught my attention, because topically, this is not necessarily one I would have thought I'd be super interested in, but enjoyed nevertheless. I'm always curious to read new Japanese authors however, and having lived there for two years in my 20's can see how the author's stark honesty, insights, and humor on contemporary women's issues, roles, and fertility became such a hit sensation, where culturally these are things not often ...more
Marina Sofia
Aug 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An impressive, candid, fearless look at what it means to be a woman, an adolescent, a mother, a wife, an artist today.
Full review here:
May 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lolly K Dandeneau
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
via my blog:
'We had no relatives to call for help, and zero chances of marrying into money. Less than zero. Lottery odds.'

Breasts and Eggs is about being oppressed through poverty but also its about the female body as an instrument for survival or a vessel for motherhood. It begins with Natsus older sister Makiko and her silent daughter Midoriko arriving by train for a visit. While silent in her mothers presence for over half a year, her mind is a hive of
Oct 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely stunning. This novel was beautifully written and so very well crafted. It was so strong, emotional, touching, dark and yet, so hopeful. This was an exquisite story about becoming and being a woman, about motherhood, about fulfilment, about sadness and joy. Kawakami made her characters so tangible and authentic and I was so invested in the story. The story had such an effortless flow to it and Kawakami's writing style evoked so much emotion that I had to put the book down at times to ...more
Nov 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
A very good first part, followed by a slightly patchy second part - some of the stories here were nice but it lacked coherence, overall.
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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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