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The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  193 ratings  ·  30 reviews
The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P is a highly acclaimed work of fiction that won Japans most prestigious literary prize for women writers. A provocative, picaresque spin on a coming-of-age story, the novel tells of a young Japanese woman who wakes up one afternoon to discover that her big toe has turned into a penis. In learning to adjust to her new sexual organ, the heroine ...more
Hardcover, 447 pages
Published January 1st 2010 by Kodansha (first published 1993)
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Kyle Muntz
Dec 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The main thing to know about this is the premise: Matsuura takes some cues from Kafka's metamorphasis, but instead of Gregor Samsa waking up as an insect, a young Japanese woman wakes up and her big toe has turned into a penis. When her homophobic boyfriend (who feels initially disgusted by her toe-penis, then eventually threatened by its size now that he sees her as a "man") tries to chop it off, she leaves him to go on a (mostly sexual) journey of self-discovery, which begins with a blind pian ...more
Ere K.
Più che un romanzo sull'omosessualità o sulle devianze, o su qualunque altro termine stravagante possa venire in mente ai più, credo che questo sia un libro sulla liberazione da una certa idea di sessualità. Quella comune e trita, quella che è "così" perché "deve essere così", orientamento sessuale a prescindere. Non che si debba tutti provare ad entrare in un circo bizzarro pieno di fenomeni da baraccone, nel quale il sesso viene messo su un palcoscenico per il piacere di un pubblico che gode d ...more
Jun 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book caught my eye when I was importing the catalog record from OCLC. The subject code 650 was Penis fiction. Intrigued, I read the dust jacket, which described this as a tale of a young woman who wakes up one morning to find her big toe has become a penis. This creates many changes in her life, and she sets off exploring her sexuality and learns quite a bit about herself in the process.

I really enjoyed this bizarre novel. Warning: it's not the kind of book you want to read while eating foo
Pyramids Ubiquitous
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
The X-Men of absurdist erotism. I was skeptical as to whether or not the length of the book would remain consistent with the strength of the premise, and for the most part it did, getting only a bit repetitive toward the end. I only wish more of Matsuura's work was translated into English so that I could experience what else has come of her imaginings.
Stephen Douglas Rowland
Dec 23, 2017 rated it did not like it
I took a gamble with this one, hoping its ridiculous premise would be made compelling by good writing (after all, it did win one or two prestigious literary awards in Japan). To my chagrin, it reads as if it were written by an adolescent who just discovered sexuality and finds its components unequivocally hilarious.
Valette Keller
May 14, 2010 rated it it was ok
I grabbed this book at the library book sale, intrigued by the premise of waking up with a penis for a big toe. As one character puts it, "If you change your body, your state of mind changes." This theme is repeated through many characters: the main character with her new toe penis, a M-to-F transgender, a man with an extra penis, and a blind man. The story challenges traditional sexual and gender roles and preconceptions. But instead of demonstrating this through the story, the majority of the ...more
Dec 03, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2010
Translated from the Japanese original "How to Extoll the Virtues of Fingerbanging in the Most Un-Fun Way Possible." Yes, this really IS a book about a woman whose toe becomes a penis, leading her to join a traveling Geek Love-style freaky sex show. But those expecting Katherine Dunn's (or even Haruki Murakami's) patentedly queasy mix of titillation, repulsion, and emotion should look elsewhere. Though each sentence just thrums with deviancy and sex shenanigans, this is NOT erotica, and at times ...more
Aug 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Has the particular, somewhat aloof style of writing I've noted in most of post-modern Japanese literature (at least in translation). Certainly an interesting premise and a curious setting.
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 小說
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mélodie Marull
Apr 05, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Au début très enthousiaste, j'ai vite déchanté. Est-ce une traduction maladroite ou l'écriture est-elle aussi mauvaise dans la version originale ? Si le fond est subjectif, il faut quand même reconnaître que le roman est souvent problématique sur la question du consentement. En revanche j'ai apprécié les notes de bas de page, très instructives.
จริง ๆ อยากให้ 3.5 ดาวนะ นิยายเรื่องนี้เราให้เรต 18+ เป็นแนว LGBT ชัดเจนกว่าที่คิด รู้สึกแปลกใหม่ดี ติดกลิ่นความเหงาปนเศร้าแบบตุ่น ๆ แต่ก็ค้นพบความสุขเรียบง่ายแบบยิ้มได้นิด ๆ มีจุดที่อ่านแล้วสนุกเพลินหยุดไม่ได้ กับจุดที่อ่านแล้วเบื่อและไม่ชอบสักเท่าไร
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: secondhand-pile
There is a distinct style in most Japanese writing that I like. This was an unusual story which was wishy washy in places but was in the whole a decent read.
C. M. Dree
The set-up of this book is simply amazing. A normal, average, straight woman wakes up one day to find that her big toe has transformed into a fully functional penis. The surreal, unexplained change sets into motion a journey of self-discovery that inevitably involves a lot of strange sexual adventures. It sounds like the set-up for a bawdy novel filled with gratuitous sex scenes, but The Apprenticeship Of Big Toe P isn't. It's surreal and elegant, and definitely not for easily-scandalized minds. ...more
Jul 11, 2011 rated it liked it
This is a very bizarre novel!! But I really liked it!
It is about a young woman who wakes up one normal morning to find a penis instead of her big toe! From then on her normal mundane sex life as well as her whole life take out an abnormal path! Her life starts revolving around strange sexual encounters. She befriends the Flower Show which is made up of people who also suffer from sexual abnormalities. Although this book is about sex and penises it rarely does anything to get the reader in the m
Apr 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: eas-344, feminist, japan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 09, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: japanese
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jesse Baker
Sep 18, 2010 rated it liked it
Say Gregor Samsa awoke that morning not as a cockroach but as a young, mild-mannered, Japanese woman, wholly unremarkable except that the big toe on her right foot transformed overnight into a penis—so she flees her homophobic fiancé, falls in love with a bisexual blind pianist and joins a troupe of sexually deformed misfits whose live performances conjure images of Sade and Bataille. Yet somehow this occurs within a sweetly unsentimental bildungsroman that reads more like Francine Prose than Ka ...more
Jun 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
I made it through Big Toe P without feeling disappointed. It was odd/steamy enough to keep me intrigued yet it was also exploratory in the sense that the overall tone and presentation of the book felt (appropriately) foreign. The surreal premise was matched by a ever- rational, almost draining play-by-play--a moment-to-moment update of the characters' dynamics of mutual attractions, conflicts, etc. I'm sure that there is a cultural underpinning to her tight adherence her mode of writing I hope t ...more
Nat Jaeger
Jan 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
What can I say about this book? It's a story about a girl whose big toe turns into a penis. Having the sense of humor of a 13 year old boy, I thought this was going to be hilarious. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by its deep and abiding pathos and the questions it raises about sexual identity and gender perception. n.b. if you have any qualms about sex and or deformities this book is not for you. It is odd. It is perverse. It is Japanese.
Oct 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Although the ending was a complete disaster (actually, the last 100 pages are kind of a trainwreck), this book was super interesting, and very fun as well. There are a lot of fascinating reflections about sex, gender, love, relationships and how our identity revolves around these issues, and the prose wasn't bad at all, often even witty and dynamic. Booktube review to come.
Lori Botterman
Jun 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Crazy -- part erotic, part social commentary. I'm not at all sure who I would recommend this to. A story of a young Japanese woman who wakes up to find her big toe has become a functioning penis is just not for everyone. Hidden in the bizarre story are some insights into sexuality and relationships that take this beyond erotica.
2.5 stars, I suppose. It wasn't a good book, but it wasn't too bad either. It could have been much better. One way or another, I will definitely remember it.

If you like weird books then this is one for your bucket list.
Feb 23, 2010 marked it as to-read
from the McNally Jackson site: The novel is a strange exploration of gender and control, the premise being simply that a woman wakes up to discover that one of her toes has become a penis. Yes, that is correct. It reads like a more sexually engaged Murakami, and is funny, too.

OMG what??
Ana Silva Rosa
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012, amazing
Prose style: 5
Plot: 5
Depth of characters: 5
Originality: 5
Entertaining: 5
Emotional Reaction: 5
Intellectual Stimulation: 4

I want to re-read it. And then re-read again. And re-read it, and re-read it a thousand times. I'm so attached to this book. It was the first book I fell in love with.
Apr 08, 2010 marked it as to-read
I'm not sure I'll ever actually read this since I skimmed this on my lunch hour, but how can I resist adding a book to my list about a young woman who wakes up to find her big toe has turned into a penis?
Dec 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
strange combination of the outlandish and the prosaic
Dec 03, 2013 marked it as to-read
(borrowing this as soon as i get membership access to the japan foundation library: this is just TOO bizarre!!!)
May 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
A really different kind of coming age book that also deals with love and sex and everything in between.
Runz Sama
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jp-books
จบ! เรื่องไม่มีอะไรเลยนอกจากความเวิ่นเว้อของคาซึมิ!.. 5555555 ป้าเรย์โกะนี่ สุดติ่งไปเลยยยยยย ทำไมถึงแต่งเรื่องได้แฟนซีล้นๆอะไรแบบนี้...55555 ปล.เราชอบความลิลลี่ในหนังสือของป้าเรย์โกะเสมอ..ฮาาาา
rated it it was amazing
Mar 28, 2018
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Rieko Matsuura (松浦 理恵子) was born on August 7, 1958 in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, Japan.

She studied at Aoyama Gakuin University of Liberal Arts and is a postmodern novelist.

She went from Marugame West Middle School to Kagawa Prefecture Otemae Middle School, a private school in the area. Matsuura attended Aoyama Gakuin University where she majored in French literature. In her teens, she had read M

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