,
Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Heaven” as Want to Read:
Heaven
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Heaven

by
3.83  ·  Rating details ·  14,424 ratings  ·  2,295 reviews
Hailed as a bold foray into new literary territory, Kawakami’s novel is told in the voice of a 14-year-old student who subjected to relentless torment for having a lazy eye. Instead of resisting, the boy chooses to suffer in complete resignation. The only person who understands what he is going through is a female classmate who suffers similar treatment at the hands of her ...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published May 25th 2021 by Europa Editions (first published September 2nd 2009)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Heaven, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Zach Yes. I teach high school and it's more suited to upperclassmen.…moreYes. I teach high school and it's more suited to upperclassmen.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  14,424 ratings  ·  2,295 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Heaven
s.penkevich
May 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Because we’re always in pain, we know exactly what it means to hurt somebody else.

In the past year I’ve really come to appreciate Mieko Kawakami. Heralded by Haruki Murakami, I eagerly dove in and have not been continuously astonished by her ouveur and literary punk-rock expressions of ideas. Heaven is the third novel translated to English by Japanese singer turned poet turned author Mieko Kawakami, who;s much praised—and deservedly so—Breasts and Eggs topped almost every Best Of list for 2020
...more
lark benobi
Dec 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
HEAVEN wrung me out, and then it lifted me up.

There is level of uncomfortable realism to some scenes in the novel. There are some very brutal scenes of children hurting one another. But these scenes aren't the purpose of the novel--they act instead as a springboard for Kawakami to embark on a serious moral inquiry into the nature of human relationships, the meaning of friendship, the obligations of familial love, and the definition of power.

Throughout the novel Kawakami gives children voice an
...more
Adina
Apr 04, 2022 rated it liked it
Shortlisted for Booker International 2022

Audiobook narrated by Scott Keiji Takeda and translated from Japanese into English by Sam Bett and David Boyd.
Ebook translated from Japanese in Romanian by Iolanda Prodan

Heaven was so hard to read and to rate. The subject is heartbreaking, namely bullying in school. The writing is not difficult but I had to skip some passages where the bulling was described in detail. I guess I am quite sensitive when it comes to violence towards children, being it incur
...more
daph pink ♡
Jun 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
This impactful, genius and unique Heaven hurts.

Heaven is a Japanese translated novel by a genius author Meiko Kawakami, read any of her book and you will get you know why I called her a genius.

The book is about bullying and behaviour of bullies and one who get bullied. It's a raw and grounded exploration behind impact of bullying as well as human relationships. Meiko created something frighteningly honest and powerful with her flair of words and dialogue writing.

I really adored the relationsh
...more
Henk
Shortlisted for the International Booker Prize 2022

Bullying and the tragedy of children trying to find meaning in a world focussed on conformity and the strong, instead of the weak
We are a lot like things already. She bit her lower lip and laughed. You and know both know it isn’t true but that’s what we are for them.

I felt a lot of emotion while reading the book, Heaven is certainly a book with impact, through telling in simple prose the everyday horrors of school life. Beside indignant I also f
...more
©hrissie ❁ [Back-ish -- Recovery Mode]
Shortlisted for the International Booker Prize 2022


Mieko Kawakami's Heaven is a plain-seeming, heartrending novel about bullying that deftly tests assumptions about morality and meaning...and invites a close encounter with Nietzschean philosophy.

The narrative follows 14-year-old narrator's resigned yet inly tormented struggle against bullying, as well as his frustrated endeavours to make sense of his trampled-upon existence. He is convinced that his lazy eye makes him an easy target, as do K
...more
emma
Life is about compromise.

I don't think it should be - for example, you can make brown-butter chocolate chip cookies with sea salt on top anytime you want, and there is absolutely no compromise on deliciousness there - but apparently, it is.

And for me, this book is about compromise, seeing as it'ss half a kind of book I hate (detailed and long-winded renditions of the suffering of innocent people, in this case children) and half a kind of book I love (philosophical musings).

What it results in, in
...more
Elyse  Walters
I love Japanese literature. When it’s good...my mind and emotions are equally invested.
Both my mind and emotions were invested in “Heaven”.

Mieko Kawakami is new to me, but I just purchased “Breasts and Eggs”....and will look forward to reading it too.

There are stressful and devastating circumstances in ‘Heaven’.
A young boy is bullied at school.
He was kicked, punched, forced to swallow pond water, toilet water, a goldfish, scraps of vegetables from a rabbit cage, and eat chalk.
Pretty awful ho
...more
Meike
Sep 26, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021-read, japan, 2022-ibp
Now Shortlisted for the International Booker Prize 2022
Kawakami's novella "Heaven" is set in the early 90's and tells the story of two middle schoolers who are relentlessly bullied, and the explanations they seek in order to make sense of their experiences. And make no mistake: We are talking about the kind of bullying that might feature in a Takashi Miike movie, including lots of blood and even sexual violence. Our unnamed protagonist and narrator is a 14-year-old with a lazy eye who befriends
...more
Eric Anderson
Jun 09, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nothing twists my heart like recalling the alienation I felt in childhood. That was a time of blistering self-awareness made all the more painful by children around me who gleefully pointed out my apparent “flaws” and punished me for them. In retrospect we like to say it's our differences which make us unique. We like to assert how the antagonism we endured has made us stronger. These are empowering notions, but what truth does this rationality hold when we still experience the visceral sting of ...more
L.S. Popovich
I am cautiously optimistic regarding Mieko Kawakami's literary future. She is a rising star of popular Japanese fiction, but I see her writing style suffering from common traits plaguing the English translations we are getting within the past several years. It is a kind of commercial dumbing down of the prose. Contemporary Japanese books are sliding into the mainstream perhaps, and losing some of that Mishima-level literary refinement. You don't get anything on the level of Ryu Murakami anymore, ...more
Linda
Aug 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: asian-themes, fiction
"We have got to dispel this myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage." (Barack Obama)

Heaven is certainly not based on a theme of "kids will be kids". It is a long hard look at the cruelties inflicted upon one another as young individuals roam the perimeters of the school grounds, and way beyond, looking for their victims. It is the very powerless who prey upon the familiar powerless.

Mieko Kawakami is an award winning international novelist who is noted for her insights into the dilem
...more
J.L.   Sutton
Dec 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
“Listen, if there is a hell, we're in it. And if there's a heaven, we're already there. This is it.”

Heaven,' by Mieko Kawakami book review - The Washington Post

In Mieko Kawakami's Heaven, our 14-year old protagonist faces unrelenting torment and bullying. Everyone seems complicit in this bullying, and there seems no end in sight. It is absolutely brutal. When he receives letters offering friendship from a fellow classmate, Kojima, things begin to look up. However, Kojima is also bullied and nearly as soon as this friendship begins, there is a sense of da
...more
luce (currently recovering from a hiatus)
blogthestorygraphletterboxd tumblrko-fi

3 ½ stars

A few weeks ago I read Mieko Kawakami's acclaimed Breasts and Eggs and suffice to say that I was not a fan. While Heaven was clearly written by the same author of Breasts and Eggs (both novels implement similar imagery and even use the same metaphor comparing the legs of a young girl to poles) I was able to appreciate it a lot more.
In spite of its brevity Heaven is by no means an easy-going story, in fact, it often verges on being
...more
Darryl Suite
Jun 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
FINAL REVIEW // In high school, I was practically friends with everyone. I was friendly with all the different social hierarchies. Perhaps this is because I didn’t really self-identify with any one group. I made sure to talk to everyone: from the popular kids to the students considered to be the bottom of the totem pole. I have seen people getting bullied. It was always strange to see people who I considered friends bullying people who I also considered friends. And yet I said nothing. I didn’t ...more
Maxwell
Mar 15, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shortlisted for the International Booker Prize 2022

A great crossover novel for readers of YA looking for an adult fiction recommendation.

Kawakami expertly writes about what it feels like to be a teenager, in that almost infuriatingly powerless way. Our unnamed protagonist is bullied severely (major trigger warnings here) and seeks solace in the friendship of another outcast at his school. Their friendship begins to open his eyes to the world and causes him to question the morality of the choic
...more
Paul Fulcher
Jul 18, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shortlisted for the 2022 International Booker Prize

Heaven is translated from Meiko Kawakami’s 2009 novel by Sam Bett and David Boyd, the same duo who translated Breast and Eggs (originally a 2008 novella, but the translation was of an expanded 2020 version - my review)

Set in the early 90s, Heaven is, at face value, a relatively typical YA drama of two 14 year-old victims of bullies finding friendship: here the male narrator, referred to only by his nickname “Eyes”, who suffers from a lazy eye, a
...more
Katie Lumsden
Feb 09, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved so much about this book - the writing, the characterisation, its themes, the power of its emotions - although I wasn't quite sure what to make of the ending. ...more
Roman Clodia
Does anything in the world ever happen for a reason? Pretty sure the answer's no... if there's a hell, we're in it. And if there's a heaven, we're already there. This is it.


This is certainly an interesting book, part novel of ideas as a Nietzschean nihilism/existentialist view clashes with that of a moral being who sees meaning in and through suffering - but the fact that these debates are put into the mouths of 14 year olds was ultimately unconvincing to me.

Alongside this is a brutal perso
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
CW for violence, harm to children, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, self-harm.

Oof. Well I went looking for books from the new Booker International Prize longlist for 2022, and found this one in Hoopla. It was originally published in Japan in 2009, and published in the English translation by Sam Bett and David Boyd, the same team that translated Breasts and Eggs. (I was a bit critical of these two male translators with that book, as all narrators are women and talking about female health and
...more
Tara
Jun 20, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"then it hit me: dying is just like sleeping. you only know you're sleeping when you wake up the next day, but if the morning never comes, you sleep forever."
...more
Blair
(3.5) I haven’t read Mieko Kawakami before, and this was an interesting, if slight, introduction. The narrator, a teenage boy nicknamed ‘Eyes’ due to his lazy eye, deals with near-unbearable levels of physical and psychological bullying on a daily basis. His only respite comes from a tentative friendship with Kojima, a girl who endures similar treatment. (The descriptions of their experiences are in-depth and often harrowing.) This being a Japanese novella, I didn’t really expect the situation t ...more
Hugh
May 01, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shortlisted for the International Booker Prize 2022

This is the only book on the very impressive International Booker Prize shortlist that I did not read at the longlist stage, because I opted to wait for the paperback version to become available. It is a powerful account of the mental scars of bullying, told through the stories of two teenage outcasts (the male narrator who has a lazy eye, and the girl Kojima whose troubles stem from her mother's rejection of the father she loves) who face regul
...more
emily
Jun 17, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: nihon
‘Every leaf rang with its own light, and all the light poured into me without end. I inhaled and surrendered to the flow. The distance between one second and the next felt stretched out by the hands of some enormous being. I forgot to breathe, forgot to blink, and I let myself sink into the fragrant black bark of the trees. I could feel their skin against the softest parts of my body. With the tips of my fingers, I caught the drops of light falling through the gaps in the humming leaves and e
...more
Canadian Reader
This is a bleak and repellant novel, ostensibly about bullying in a Japanese middle school—with pretensions beyond that. It contains an excessive amount of unnecessarily graphic violence. I’d argue that if Kawakami were a better writer, she would have achieved her thematic goal without it.

She is interested in examining the difference between those who see suffering (and, by extension, life) as having meaning and sociopathic others who do not. The problem is that the extreme brutality depicted m
...more
Chris Haak
Feb 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
I had expected this book to be mainly aimed at young adults and 'just' a regular novel about bullying, but I think it’s more than that and that ‘Heaven’ will likely appeal to many people.
The bullying is so harsh, cruel and unemotional. It makes it hard to read sometimes and so this isn’t for the faint of heart. Also, the novel is pretty philosophical and analytical and definitely puts your mind to work. And the ending... Another great work by Mieko Kawakami!
Thank you Europa Editions and Edelwei
...more
Lea
Jun 15, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked the first half, and then it kind of lost me. The dialogue got strange and partly stilted, and the plot didn't go where I hoped it would. Still interesting, but weirder than I'd liked it to be. ...more
Books with Brittany
Jan 11, 2022 rated it liked it
Need some time to think before I rate this one.

3.5⭐️
JimZ
Jul 06, 2022 rated it really liked it
This was hard to read because it consists of bullying. Savage bullying. But well-written and I think it was a very good read.

The first-person narrator who is bullied, as far as I can tell, does not reveal his name (and neither do other people in the story). He has a female friend, Kojima, who is also bullied, and perhaps because of this they become friends. (view spoiler)
...more
nastya
Mar 14, 2022 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translated
When my mom saw me come home, she said hi from the couch where she was sitting and then turned back to the TV. I said hi back. A voice on the TV was delivering the news. It was the only sound in the house. Every room was quiet, same as always.
“I’ve been in the kitchen all day,” my mom said.
I grabbed the carton of grapefruit juice from the fridge, poured a glass, and drank it at the counter. My mom looked over and told me to drink it at the table. A few seconds later, I heard the sound of finge
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Reading the 20th ...: Heaven by Mieko Kawakami (August 2022) 48 28 Aug 02, 2022 03:36PM  
The Mookse and th...: 2022 Booker International Shortlist - Heaven 14 94 May 18, 2022 03:54AM  
TW Book Club: August 2021: Heaven 1 12 Oct 05, 2021 06:17PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • After Ever Happy (After, #4)
  • The Travelling Cat Chronicles
  • A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories
  • Gilead
  • The Great Passage
  • La Papeterie Tsubaki
  • Dept. of Speculation
  • Pastoralia
  • Black Light
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Sing to It: New Stories
  • The Silver Spoon: Memoir of a Boyhood in Japan
  • First Snow on Fuji
  • How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy
  • Winter (Seasonal Quartet, #2)
  • What Is Japanese Cinema?: A History
  • Lurkers
  • A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance
See similar books…
2,527 followers
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.
...more

Articles featuring this book

The weather’s getting cooler—here in the northern hemisphere, anyway—and that means time is running out for participants in this year’s...
306 likes · 268 comments
“But I wasn’t crying because I was sad. I guess I was crying because we had nowhere else to go, no choice but to go on living in this world. Crying because we had no other world to choose, and crying at everything before us, everything around us.” 61 likes
“Listen, if there is a hell, we're in it. And if there's a heaven, we're already there. This is it.” 25 likes
More quotes…