Book Review: Out by Natsuo Kirino

Out by Natsuo KirinoThis is a book I have wanted to read for a while. So what, large TBR at home? I finally took it with me when I saw it in the library last week.

Out: What it is about

Four women that work the night shift in a bento (Japanese lunch boxes) factory have become friends. All are in difficult situations at home, with useless husbands, debts, caring for an elderly relative during the day while working at night, etc.

One evening, Yayoi has enough of her cheating and gambling husband and kills him. She asks Masako, her friend at work, to help her hide the body. Masako asks the other two friends to join in.

For a while, things are quiet. The police suspects a night club owner and Yayoi feels safe. But then Masako gets the feeling she’s being followed, and that strangers suddenly show up everywhere.

Maybe helping out Yayoi turns out badly for the three friends…

Out: What I thought

This is almost 500 pages but I read it as if it was half the size. I turned page after page, never knowing when to stop.

It was interesting to read about Japan and about these four women, who all for their own reasons live a difficult life. It was very easy to imagine their circumstances. Especially Yoshi, who looks after her mother in law and has a difficult teenage daughter, sounded very real to me.

The book is written from different people’s perspectives. I liked it how a few other characters seeped into the story, starting as not important at all, but taking a more and more central role the further in the story I got.

The book is about getting out of difficult circumstances and how far you will go to achieve that. It’s about friendship and relationships.

I didn’t like the end too much as it concentrated too much on one of the friends (while the reader might want to know how things end for the others, too). Some of the book is a bit gory, but this was definitely not a horror story.

I got this book: from the library, because it had been on my wishlist for over a year

I read this in: Dutch, the original language is Japanese

Number of pages: 479 (Dutch edition)

First published: 1997

Genre: thriller

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36 Responses to Book Review: Out by Natsuo Kirino

  1. Uniflame says:

    The story sounds great, but I fear that if it had gory parts, I have to skip this. The cover does freak me out a bit as well, but that is because objects close to eyes just freak me out a little 😉 I am glad you enjoyed it!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Uniflame, yes, the gory parts are more things that you imagine while reading the story than actually is described, although there is mention of blood on the walls and cutting people up in pieces. 🙂

  2. Tricia says:

    I bought this novel at The Friends of the Library Bookstore a few weeks ago – it sounds great – I’ll have to move it up my tbr pile!

  3. This cover freaks me out! But, it’s also what makes me want to pick it up and now your review makes me want to read it. Totally putting this on my reminder list at Goodreads!

  4. Fiona says:

    Great review – I’m going to have to read it soon myself. This one seems to be her most popular. Grotesque is very good as well – and also quite gory. I need to get hold of her other one too – Real World I think?

  5. petekarnas says:

    I have a copy of Kirino’s Grotesque which I’ve been meaning to read for a while. Excellent review, this looks like an author I’d be very interested in reading.

  6. Cindy says:

    I like to cook, so I prefer my gory bits to have flavour, thanks 🙂

  7. Susan says:

    I read this book years ago, and I do remember being quite shocked and discomforted by the graphic goriness and just the harshness of the tale. I remember being surprised that it was written by a woman.

    Are you sure it was originally published in English? For some reason–well, obviously the author’s name and the setting–I thought it had been translated from Japanese. I think that’s another reason I was surprised by the violence and harshness of the story. When do you EVER hear about Japanese women acting like that? It was a bold, disturbing, compelling novel. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Susan, you’re of course right: the original language is Japanese. I think I just copied and pasted from another review post AND the Dutch translation I had was translated from the English (!) so I missed that. Will amend!

      I didn’t find it too gory and shocking. Well, I can read Chuck Palahniuk if I keep my eyes and nose half-closed! So this was fine for me.

      I think the conditions these women lived in made their violent and harsh behaviour quite likely and believable. I don’t know if Japanese women live like this in reality but in My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki (Japanese American writer) a Japanese woman is also totally under her husband’s thumb and has no life for herself. I can recommend that book, actually, even though I’m a vegetarian.

  8. Chinoiseries says:

    I like your review! I have no idea why I had not heard of Out before, but now I want to run straight to the library and read it! (But I can’t, considering my tbr pile & the library pile at home).

  9. Nadine Nys says:

    I Will have to ad this to my wishlist… Thanks for the great review!

  10. I hadn’t heard of this before, and now I feel like I need to read it!

  11. Julie P says:

    This definitely does sound intriguing….

  12. Trisha says:

    This certainly sounds engrossing.

  13. This is my favourite so I’m really pleased to see that you enjoyed it too. I keep thinking about whether or not I’d be prepared to help my friends dispose of their murdered husband – I still can’t decide!

  14. Cathy says:

    Out was one of my top ten books the year that I read it. It may not be for everyone, but it certainly is memorable!

  15. I’ve had this on my radar for a few weeks after seeing it mentioned lots recently – I really need to get a copy of this soon, it sounds right up my street!

  16. parrish says:

    I’ve read Grotesque, Real World(?), but this is my favourite Kirino book, I posted on it last year, its a real page turner as well as giving you an insight into a Japan one never really here about. Loved it & enjoyed your post on it .

    • Leeswammes says:

      This was my first Kirino book, Parrish. I also think it gives insight into Japan that we normally don’t hear about. Must read more by her!

  17. Novroz says:

    Yeaa…glad to hear you like OUT as much as I am 🙂
    Because of OUT,I want to read more books by her

    • Leeswammes says:

      Novroz, let me know what you think of her other books when you read them (or maybe I’ll beat you to it). I’ve heard good stories about them.

  18. Trish says:

    Glad to hear you really liked this one Judith! I *think* I have this one on my shelf–different cover so I can’t be certain and if so maybe I’ll have to bump it up on the list. I’ve been a little put off by the length so I’m glad to hear it went quickly for you. And I love the idea of the different narrations!

  19. Rachel says:

    I loved this book! Very enjoyable. I think it was the first Japanese novel I read too.

  20. Aleetha says:

    I have read the translation of this book. Creepy and frightening, that all I can say about this book. But I do enjoyed it. There is another book of Natsuo Kirino.But I think I need time to prepare myself for everything that she wrote next

  21. Pingback: Out by Natsuo Kirino « The Sleepless Reader

  22. Pingback: Out by Natsuo Kirino « JoV's Book Pyramid

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