Breasts and Eggs
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...more
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. ...more
The novel felt so much like two different stories stuck together that ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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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 ...more
The real people in this book are women - single women - ...more
I enjoyed this well enough as a light read but it doesn't push the boundaries like, say, The Vegetarian.
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 ...more
Since time immemorial most women all ...more
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 ...more
I thoroughly ...more
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 ...more
I wanted to connect; I expected to connect. But despite the ...more
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
It is easy to see why Murakami is a big fan.
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 ...more
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 ...more
'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 ...more
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.