Read-along in January: Breasts and Eggs by Meiko Kawakami (All Are Welcome!)

The story of three women by a writer hailed by Haruki Murakami as Japan’s most important contemporary novelist, WINNER OF THE AKUTAGAWA PRIZE.

“BREASTS AND EGGS took my breath away.”—HARUKI MURAKAMI 

Challenging every preconception about storytelling and prose style, mixing wry humor and riveting emotional depth, Kawakami is today one of Japan’s most important and best-selling writers. She exploded onto the cultural scene first as a musician, then as a poet and popular blogger, and is now an award-winning novelist.

Breasts and Eggs paints a portrait of contemporary womanhood in Japan and recounts the intimate journeys of three women as they confront oppressive mores and their own uncertainties on the road to finding peace and futures they can truly call their own.

It tells the story of three women: the thirty-year-old Natsu, her older sister, Makiko, and Makiko’s daughter, Midoriko. Makiko has traveled to Tokyo in search of an affordable breast enhancement procedure. She is accompanied by Midoriko, who has recently grown silent, finding herself unable to voice the vague yet overwhelming pressures associated with growing up. Her silence proves a catalyst for each woman to confront her fears and frustrations.

On another hot summer’s day ten years later, Natsu, on a journey back to her native city, struggles with her own indeterminate identity as she confronts anxieties about growing old alone and childless.

Kawakami’s first novella My Ego, My Teeth, and the World, published in Japan in 2007, was awarded the Tsubouchi Shoyo Prize for Young Emerging Writers. The following year, she published Breasts and Eggs as a short novella, and won praise from Yoko Ogawa and Haruki Murakami. The newly expanded Breasts and Eggs is her first novel to be published in English.

A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2020 
Vogue・Thrillist・The Millions・ Literary Hub・Now Toronto・Metropolis Japan

“One of Japan’s brightest stars is set to explode across the global skies of literature . . . Kawakami is both a writer’s writer and an entertainer, a thinker and constantly evolving stylist who manages to be highly readable and immensely popular.”— Japan Times

“Mieko Kawakami lobbed a literary grenade into the fusty, male-dominated world of Japanese fiction with Breasts and Eggs.”— The Economist

“I can never forget the sense of pure astonishment I felt when I first read Mieko Kawakami’s novella Breasts and Eggs . . . Kawakami is always ceaselessly growing and evolving.”—HARUKI MURAKAMI, author of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

The author

Mieko Kawakami
Born in Osaka prefecture in 1976, Mieko Kawakami began her career as a singer and songwriter before making her literary debut in 2006. Her first novella My Ego, My Teeth, and the World, published in 2007, was nominated for the Akutagawa Prize and awarded the Tsubouchi Shoyo Prize for Young Emerging Writers. The following year, Kawakami published Breasts and Eggs as a short novella. It won the Akutagawa Prize, Japan’s most prestigious literary honor, and earned praise from the acclaimed writer Yoko Ogawa. Kawakami is also the author of the novels HeavenThe Night Belongs to Lovers, and the newly expanded Breasts and Eggs, her first novel to be published in English. She lives in Japan.


All of the text above is quoted from Europa Editions. I hope that entices you to join Frances (@nonsuchbook) and I, as well as others who said they were interested, to read this book in January. Feel free to post about it during the month, or save your thoughts until the end. Either way, it should be a marvelous read. A marvelous discussion.

12 thoughts on “Read-along in January: Breasts and Eggs by Meiko Kawakami (All Are Welcome!)”

    1. I will let you know of my favorites for this year, one that I think you really would enjoy. By the way, have you read Silence by Endo? With our faith, you might find that extremely interesting.

      Happy New Year!

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  1. oh oh oh! I really want to do this, but am already committed to 3 books for January – including the arc for the new Ishiguro – Klara and the Sun. That will have to do me for Japanese Lit 14, but I will look on with interest…

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    1. As you probably know, Klara and The Sun is on the “list” for me to read for the JLC14, too. But, Knopf asked that I not review it until March 2, so I must abide. Looking forward to discussing it with you! And, I have begun Breasts and Eggs, which is indeed wonderful.

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      1. I should check with my rep to see if I have a similar restriction. They normally say something though up front… mine is being published by Faber & Faber out of the UK.

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  2. I will not be able to get to this in January, but you have got me completely determined to read it sometime this year. I do look forward to follow any discussion that you post.

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  3. M, I had no idea you were reading this one, too. I started it for JLC and am really enjoying it. It has been on my radar for quite some time and I thought it would be a great way to start the new year. My reading has been rather nil and I wanted something of quality to sink my teeth into. Hope you are enjoying it as well. Looking forward to your thoughts on it. xx

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    1. It will be so great to talk with you about this, Nadia! What an intriguing book, especially concerning women and the issues Kawakami is addressing! I’m already forming a strong viewpoint, which I wonder will be shared with my fellow readers. We shall see! xo

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  4. Glad to see you kickstarted the group read-along. Though I’ll confess, I just couldn’t bring myself to start this one. I read a great review for it on The Guardian, but right now I just yearn for shiny, hopeful things. Sheesh. Hope things improve soon and looking forward to some fresh reviews soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a little heavier than I would have liked to start the new year. I thought it was more about contemporary women’s lives, and less about artificial insemination/donor conception. Still, it is thought provoking, and I’m sure I’ll have several opinions to share when it’s time.

      I’m with you, though: looking for some shiny, hopeful things!

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