Out by Natsuo Kirino

She had no need for such emotions any more. She’d left them behind. She understood that she’d chosen her path out of the same sense of isolation that had driven her to help Yayoi.

She had crossed a line that day. She had cut up a man’s body and scattered it across the city. And even if she could erase the memory of what she’d done, she could never go back to the way she’d been.

With barely any warning, a wave of nausea rose up in her and she vomited beside the car; but the nausea stayed with her. She dropped to her knees, tears streaming from her eyes, as the yellow bile poured out of her mouth. (p. 291)

If you think the cover of this novel is shocking, you should read the book. I was absolutely mesmerized, drawn in to every detail and event as if I was watching it on film. Almost as if I was there myself. It’s no wonder this novel has been reviewed with high praise in all the previous Japanese literature challenges. What is a wonder is that I’d taken so long to read it for myself.

It’s not just about murder, though, or cutting up the deceased’s body into fifty little pieces and placing them in garbage bags to disperse throughout the city.

It’s not just an intricately woven plot, brilliantly conceived and executed.

It’s about isolation. Power. Bad choices. And what would you do to escape the trials of your life? What irrevocable damage has been done in our world in the name of freedom? What do we really have the power to escape from? Thought provoking stuff.

Out has got to be one of my favorite reads of the year. No wonder it won the Grand Prix, Japan’s top award for mystery.

(Find other thoughts on Out from Novel Insights, Literary Feline, another cookie crumbles, The Reading Life, Terri B., and  Suko (coming soon).

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31 thoughts on “Out by Natsuo Kirino”

  1. You know I read part of this book a couple of years ago but when I got to the part where they cut the body into little pieces…I just had to stop. I couldn't go on. But I've heard so much about this book lately that I wanted to give it another try. Hopefully I'll have a stronger stomach this time.

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  2. Yeah, the cutting up part is very gruesome. There's no denying the blood and gore in this book. But, once you get past that, if you can, the psychological aspect was the part to me that was truly terrifying. Consequences of our actions, inability to truly escape what bothers us in our lives, and all that.

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  3. It is definitely a disturbing book but worth it, for all the reasons you enumerate so well here, Bellezza.That said, it's the conclusion (B, you know what I mean!!!) that tends make me hesitate to recommend it. It makes the "feminist" part of "feminist noir" much, much more troublesome than it already was…

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  4. I'm so pleased that you loved this book as much as I did! I didn't realise it had won the Grand Prix – I'll have to keep an eye out for other books that have won the same award.

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  5. Oh my gosh, that sounds like quite the page turner! I could read a book like that, but could never watch the movie version. I bet my son would like this one too.

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  6. Thanks for the linky 🙂 This was probably one of the most disturbing books I read last year. I just couldn't put it down, and was almost bewildered by the things happening. It almost seemed believable – which is the scary thing!

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  7. Colleen, I think I would have been disappointed if Masako hadn't "won". Really, what did she win, though, except for her life? I think she was just as troubled as her tormentor, Satake, otherwise how could they both have committed such murders? How could they both have understood each other at the end? It is a terrible tragedy, in every sense of the word, from the terrible physical death to the spiritual/emotional death they all suffered.Suko, I'm looking forward to your thoughts when you're done!Farmlane Books, I came looking for review so I could link to you here, but I only found a reference to it in a list or two. If you have a link to a review I'd love to post it. I feel the same way about looking for more Grand Prix winners. Reading such a good mystery only puts me in the mood for more.Bermuda Onion, a movie of this book would be quite horrific! I don't think I could watch it, as there were parts I could barely read.another cookie crumbles, you're so welcome! When a book is this fascinating it's good to get lots of points of view on it. I felt the same way as you said: half compelled to finish it and half disturbed. In many ways, it was like watching the evening news in Chicago. Sadly enough.

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  8. Great review and thanks for linking to my post-the author has a lot of untranslated novels so we have hopes that more maybe coming-if you like Real World and Out you should go onto the well named Grotesque which is if anything even more horrific-

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  9. Terri, thanks for leaving me your link; I'll add it to the post right now. My son and I just came back from our local library where I scored a copy of Real World, Oe's A Quiet Life (which I just bought on amazon.com!) and Murakami's In The Miso Soup. Since I seem to be ready for another work of Kirino's, I think I'll start with Real World first.Faith Adeline, now I'm looking forward to Real World!Mel, I wonder if I'll be able to manage Grotesque especially as you say it really lives up to its name!

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  10. Grotesque is a "rougher" book than than Real World or Out for sure-it is as we could guess quite brilliant-I just finished Coin Locker Babies and am looking now for a second Ryu Murakami book-I will wait and see how you like In The Miso Soup

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  11. Bellezza: I remember thinking that in Out, the women helped each other and stuck together in a way, against the male establishment that kept them down. Great book and review!

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  12. Mel, I won't forget Coin Locker Babies. It was a very moving book to me, although it had it's difficult parts, too. I never quite expected some aspects of Japanese literature to be so…violent? Upsetting? I'm not sure what word I want, but it certainly isn't all the 'cherry blossom world' I had envisioned before I read much in this genre.Book Bird Dog, it's true! They really did try to go against the male establishment, but except for Masako, the other three seemed to be overpowered. I wonder how life is for women, in general, in Japan. I've never visited there, but I hear the pressures are great no matter what one's gender may be.

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  13. This is one of the novels that got me hooked on Japanese literature! 🙂 I really enjoyed this book and yes, it was shocking.. yet gripping. I also read 'Grotesque' by Natsuo Kirino and it was good too. Although, 'Out' was my favourite. I must pick up her other book for the challenge! Great review 🙂 It makes me want to read this book again!

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  14. Rachel, have you read Real World? I have that on my table, since Grotesque was unavailable at our library, and I'll get to that as soon as I finish Silence by Endo. This was my first time reading anything by Natsuo Kirino, and I must say, I was completely drawn in.

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  15. Every time I shelve this and Real World, I think I should give them a try. Well, you've convinced me, dear friend! And my library has Out, so I plan to head over there and get a copy later this week! I'm still intimidated by Murakami and am thinking these mysteries might be more my thing. 🙂

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  16. P.S. Another reason I'm happy you're back at Blogger–I don't have to respond to an email to accept follow-up comments on a post I comment on. That's such an annoying "feature" of WP!!

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  17. Lesley, the Japanese mysteries are so good (and I know we've both loved the American Robert Parker so much). Please keep in mind, though, that this one is violent; I so don't want you to be upset, dear friend. Said with love, not in a patronizing way.Also, I had no idea how it was for someone else to comment while I was on WP, but I know it was a royal pain in my behind to comment on Blogger with a WP account. I had to go through about 8,000 boxes and screens. I'm thinking this is a good move for both of us!

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  18. I cannot wait to read Out, I have already read Grotesque by this author. I have heard that Out is even better – so glad I didn't read it first. It inspired me again to find more Japanese literature. It isn't something you find so easy in bookshops and I hope my library has some otherwise I'm going to have to buy some new shelves if I need to buy them…

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  19. Fiona, it isn't easy to find Japanese literature in the course of one's normal life in the states! I have to usually buy my books from amazon.com, which except for the shipping, turns out to be a good deal. I can usually find a used book in "Like New" condition for under 3 bucks. Will you consider joining the Japanese literature challenge? I'd love to have you!Gnoe, I'm not the first person to finish a book for the challenge! As usual, the honor seems to go to Mel U, who'se already finished like four of them! Still, everyone inspires me. As we say in education, "It's a journey, not a race." 🙂

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  20. Bellezza, I I have already joined the Japanese reading challenge! You could not stop me if you wanted to. Hehe. I might have a late-ish start though as I have some reading obligations that might take up my June and July but after that I plan free range books!Hmm I'm currently on a book-buying ban too which is problematic but will most likely be broke come July when I will splurge. I love brand new books – I'm addicted to The Book Depository.

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  21. Wow! This book sounds amazing! Loved your review, Bellezza! I have to get my hands on a copy of this one and read it ASAP! Thanks for the head up on another good read!

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  22. I love this book. I've read it a year ago, didn't make it to my JLC3 tho.I want to read more by Natsuo Kirino but Unfortunately I can't find it :(Ps. I give you an award 🙂

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  23. I wanted to read Out for JLC4 anyway (especially as it was on my list last year but I didn't manage it) and now even more so. I'm not a squeamish person really (at least not when reading) so I shouldn't find that problematic.

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  24. I read this one for the challenge a couple of years ago and was sucked right in. Couldn't put it down, it was riveting in its quiet, building intensity. Glad you finally read it and had a similar experience.

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